Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Book Review - Q&A by Vikas Swarup

I recently finished reading “Q&A” by Vikas Swarup and enjoyed it enough to mention it here. This book was the inspiration for the movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Although I’ve never seen the movie, I generally find that books are better than their movie adaptations.

If you aren’t familiar with the book or the movie, the premise behind the story is that a young man in India is arrested after winning an award show ‘Who Wants to Win a Billion?” on suspicion of cheating. The show producers can’t imagine how it is possible that a poor waiter from a poor neighborhood could have known the answers to the questions they asked him, and the book narrates the life stories where he coincidentally learned the minutiae necessary to answer the questions they asked. The format was also engaging since each of the 12 questions are accompanied by a short story that is standalone, yet integrated to the rest of the story.

Whenever I read stories like this, I’m also reminded of the stark differences between the life experience of living in a developed country vs developing countries. I have spent some time living outside the US in third world countries, but haven’t yet been to Asia. This time has shaped my worldview to some degree and it helps me to recognize my privilege. If you haven’t had and don’t plan on having the opportunity to live abroad, reading stories like this can help give you a glimpse into the lives that so many millions live as their reality throughout the world (minus the winning a billion rupees part).   

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