Thursday, September 16, 2010

Slumdog Millionaire (or Q&A): Weaker than the movie

Slumdog MillionaireSlumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This novel was actually called "Q&A," but they changed the title after the movie was made. Many reviewers say the movie is actually BETTER than the book, and I believe I agree.

I had mixed feelings about the book. I'm not generally a big fan of plots that jump around in time, and this novel did that in every chapter.

The plot and circumstances were infinitely implausible, and it seemed as if the main character, Ram Mohammed Thomas, had both the best luck and the worst luck possible.

Some Indians have commented that this story does not make India look very good, and others have criticized the movie for the same reasons. The author is an Indian diplomat, who grew up in a privileged environment. I imagine that he has no direct experience of the Indian slums in Mumbai, Delhi, and Agra.

What I find fascinating about India is the combination of beauty and horror, tragedy and comedy, poignancy and pain. This book touches on all of these, but doesn't do so in a particularly elegant way.

I've read a lot of Indian fiction, and this was not in my top 10. But it was an interesting story about an orphan boy who wins long as you are able to suspend belief for a couple of hundred pages.

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