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Publisher's Summary

Vikas Swarup's spectacular debut novel, the inspiration for the award-winning film, opens in a jail cell in Mumbai, where Ram Mohammad Thomas is being held after correctly answering all 12 questions on India's biggest quiz show, Who Will Win a Billion?

It is hard to believe that a poor orphan who has never read a newspaper or gone to school could win such a contest. But through a series of exhilarating tales, Ram explains to his lawyer how episodes in his life gave him the answer to each question. In his warm-hearted tale lies all the comedy, tragedy, joy and pathos of modern India.

Hear the whole story behind the Academy Award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire!

©2005 Vikas Swarup (P)2009 BBC Audiobooks America

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  • Overall


This audiobook is masterfully read by Christopher Simpson, who is absolutely outstanding given his vast array of accents and vocal gymnastics. His reading adds an ingredient that would have been sorely missed without him. Having just visited India, I found I was pulled right into the vivid storyline.

I loved the movie but I found the stories in the book far more moving. It's originally entitled Q&A which is actually the story's format. I haven't been teary-eyed over many stories, but this one really touched my heart. The narrative jumps around a bit, but it all still plays out quite powerfully. The movie is based on the dynamics from this book, but I wish it used a few more of these stories (while politically, I can understand why they didn't). Ram Mohammad Thomas (Jamal in the movie), is still quite unforgettable. Salim and the host of other good and bad guys and all of their stories will stay with me for a long time. Even the charismatic TV show emcee has important history; I loved it. It's heavy at times, but a powerful read.

Highly recommended.

22 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting presentation. Engaging mystery.

I like this kind of book. There's a huge mystery to be solved. Hints and details are given in *unchronological order* (If you like that style of presentation, Google search: "Haruhi novels"). Those hints/details are told with believable amounts of embellishments by the unreliable narrator who is at the center of this huge mystery. (Since I can only listen to audiobooks a chapter at a time, I found myself mulling over possible clues scattered throughout the novel and was rewarded for my analysis efforts in the end). Decent and lovable characters die horrible deaths just as easily as random NPCs from the street. Oh, and the story takes place in India. India! How many books on Audible take place in India? From someone who really knows India? Sure, Vikas Swarup may be yet another US-born Indian, but the details he writes in sounds credible enough.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

"Absolutely, 100 Per cent, Correct!"

Q and A (the book's original title) is a novel of vast scope and tremendous depth, full of irony amid tragedy, and hope surrounded by despair. The "story" of its main character, "Ram Mohammed Thomas," is the equivalent of at least a dozen stories, and gives the reader/listener SO much more than the movie, Slumdog Millionaire, could ever hope to do. For those who saw the movie, listening to the novel will be an entirely different experience.
There is something in this novel for everyone to relate to, I believe, and what makes it all so marvelous is the writing talent of its first-time novelist, Vikas Swarup. Mr. Swarup has given us all a look into contemporary life in the big cities of India, through the eyes of a boy badly used by that life. In doing so, he educates while entertaining us with a plot filled with incredible coincidences, and surprise conclusions that keep us on edge, and eager for more. That's what I can say about the book alone; add Christopher Simpson's amazing array of voices and accents that match up with characters coming from various social classes and regions, and this Slumdog Millionaire becomes an un-put-down-able "listen."

26 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Forrest Gump Does India

I have been disappointed in many over-hyped best sellers so I am not quick to pick them up most of the time. However, when Audible made this book available on The Deal of the Day, I was curious to see what the fuss was about. As a debut novel, Slumdog Millionaire, is quite an achievement for Vikas Swarup. Ram Mohammad Thomas is arrested for cheating on a game show in which he won 1 billion rupees and what follows then is his first person account of his life story detailing how this poor, unsophisticated boy came to know all the answers for the game show without cheating. Much like Forrest Gump, Thomas is naive, even stupid at times, and has no financial resources, yet through strange twists of fate, a good and mostly honest heart, and dumb luck, he encounters people from all walks of life and repeatedly falls into excrement yet comes up smelling like a rose.

In telling the tale Swarup gives us thumbnail sketches of the sadder side of the lives of the 1.2 billion people that populate India especially many of the children - hunger, prostitution, thievery, gangs, and physical and sexual abuse. I have read several novels about modern day India before (the best being A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry) so I didn't find the stories shocking, but did find many of them quite poignant. However, Swarup has given his protagonist an almost indefatigable sense of optimism and has woven some nice ironic humor into most of the narrative so the book is touching without being overwhelmingly depressing.

There are some common minor problems of the debut novel - Slumdog sometimes seems to "cram in" so much that it loses focus, and although the narrative is not intended to be totally linear, there are some mis-steps in the timeline that can be confusing to the listener.

Christopher Simpson's narration is first class. His acting talent is useful in bringing the listener "up close and personal" with this First Person account and he does amazingly good accents - Indian, Irish, Australian. (The voice he uses for the game show host is so perfectly smarmy - I loved it!)

This book wasn't over-hyped - it really is a very good debut novel.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Nothing Like the Movie

Nothing like the movie in the sense that the story doesn't follow the same line through telling the story -- at least not focusing so much on the game show theatrics like the movie.
This is a sad but triumphant tale, and it was amazing how the story progressed and how the life of the main character seemed to develop. Actually, I enjoyed this story a lot, but I expected it to be more like the movie, and it wasn't. I thought it was much better.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Delight!

I loved this book. Great Narrator. Great Story. I havent seen the movie yet (wanted to read the book first) but can understand why a screenplay was written based on this book. The story has terribly sad moments but is injected with humor at the same time and is definitely one of those "feel good" types of stories.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Engaging story, educational and enriching.

Emotional adventure, educational regarding the life conditions of many in India. A brilliant and original concept for telling this amazing story. This story describes an extraordinary child's overcoming of political, social, and moral corruption in India.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ed
  • Saint Augustine, FL, United States
  • 05-25-11

Narration hard to understand at times

At times I was going to award this book three stars. At other times, it was five. I finally settled on four because the story and characters were riveting but the narration left me missing phrases at a time. Accents can certainly contribute to the atmosphere of a reading but when they compromise understanding, they've gone a bit overboard. A major plot revelation very near the end caught me by surprise and it probably should not have. In my mind that gave Swarup some extra points and pushed the stars to four. With the exception of that surprise, most of the rest of the book was pretty easy to predict. The author made it easy for the listener to put himself/herself in Thomas' place and that meant some good listening. I look forward to seeing the movie adaptation of this book.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Nancy
  • Waterloo, ON, Canada
  • 08-10-12

Good read

This novel is about a man being accused of cheating on a trivia type game show. It is presented in an interesting fashion; each chapter details a life experience which helped the main character answer one of the trivia questions. I found the book to be well written and interesting although a little bit sad to see the hardships that the main characters and his friends experience. The novel is quite different from the movie, although the idea is similar.

The narration was very good. I was very impressed with all of the accents and voices expressed by the narrator.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good Story, Well Narrated

As others have noted, the book is longer, different, and more interesting than the movie. The characters are more thoroughly drawn out, and the link between each story and the money that Ram wins from each question in the contest is more clear.

In each story, Ram loses something. Or more specifically, he voluntarily gives up something in order to help someone else. The contest is how he gets paid back for his lifetime of suffering and generosity.

The narration is interesting, with a variety of Indian accents. I enjoyed the movie for the images of India, but I enjoyed the book for the characters and the morality play among them.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful