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1235164807-41tpt6m97hlAuthor: Vikas Swarup

What is it about? Ram Mohammad Thomas, an uneducated waiter with a less than exemplary past, wins a billion rupees on a quiz show. The network executives and authorities cannot believe that he could know the answers to these questions, and as a result he is arrested. The story unfolds through a series of flashbacks, as told by Ram as he explains his past to a lawyer. Each chapter details the events which led to Ram being able to answer the increasingly difficult quiz show questions.

Excerpts: If you were to search for me in this crowded maze, where would you look? You would probably try to find me among the dozens of street children stretched out on the smooth concrete floor in various stages of rest and slumber. You might even imagine me as an adolescent hawker, peddling plastic bottles containing tap water from the station’s toilet as pure Himalayan aqua minerale. You could visualize me as one of the sweepers in dirty shirt and torn pants shuffling across the platform, with a long swishing broom transferring dirt from the pavement on to the track. Or you could look for me among the regiments of red-uniformed porters bustling about with heavy loads on their heads.

Well, think again, because I am neither hawker, nor porter, nor sweeper. Today I am a bona fide passenger, travelling to Mumbai, in the sleeper class no less, and with a proper reservation.

My Two Cents: I read this fairly recently after seeing the movie, so I couldn’t help but make comparisons between the two. The protagonist is much more engaging in the book than in the movie, and has a much darker past. Certain parts of the book were omitted from the movie, probably due to their graphic and/or disturbing nature. Full of suspsense, Q&A will have you rapidly turning pages as you get immersed in Ram’s incredible past spent growing up in Asia’s largest slum. I have no idea how accurate it is, but this book paints a fascinating picture of the inner workings of Mumbai.

You might like it if you liked: the movie version, Shantaram, The Inheritance of Loss

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