Retitling Q&A to Slumdog Millionaire is one of the clever marketing way that the publisher had done to the book. As much as I love watching the movie, the book itself is largely a disappointment that thankfully the movie does improve in some ways.
However, one of the thing that both versions at fault was the appropriation of India that most native Indian would identify. But as an Asian who have some form of understanding of Indian culture, I wouldn’t recommend the book to audience desiring the real India which only could be experience by yourself and not by reading it.
But no, my issue with the book belong to the book itself. Titled as Q&A, it does adhere to the game storyline but although the movie simplified most of the things with street smart Jamal Malik, the Raj in this book is positively hateful. In fact, he just got lucky.. very very lucky especially actually.
Like the movie, it consisted of every chapter of the questions that follows the main character’s ultimate prize in the end. However, unlike the movie which was crafted by experience screenplayer and producers, Vikas Swarup’s prose wasn’t as magnificent as its adaptation.
Written in a very juvenile narration, Raj is almost a pulp character churned into the image whence most readers could relate to. The story of his life is very different from the movie which made both unique in their own way. Henceforth, why both are different in a lot of way.
What surprised me was the appropriation done by the author to please his western audience. Reminence of a singaporean book I read last year especially on insisting that English as a better language than the mother language that the characters belong to. In this book, Raj grew up in a church of a priest and as the result he is fluent in English. Because of this, he later grew up as an adult with more advantage than the lesser folks due to his fluency. As a fluent bilingual asian reader, I am proud of my mothertongue and never as pretentious as I could, try to subject my views on native tongue as outdated and second class as both author do. I know it would have work in a more realist setting but the pretentiousness of this whole ideals never cease to amaze me (until someone pointed out that Swarup is basically ‘India-celup’ so that explains a lot)
What bugs me even more was the plot holes and characterizations in this book down to the misogynist conclusion. I get that incest rape, prostitution and abused ageing dramatic movie star was the feminine plots that the author try to introduce into his narration so that he would sound like a defender of the said ladies. I couldn’t quite agree at the end since it finish off more as a pulp fiction without substance especially with the female characters in his book.
Like seeing something from a glass aquarium and more pulpy than it intended to be as a general fiction, Swarup gave a distorted view of the indian culture in a bizarre way a person could have for their motherland. With a quite a Marty Stu-ish main character, its not hard that one would find themselves connected with the character.
But as a novel written by a rather well-travelled person, I was rather stumped by the shallowness that this book reeks. I wonder if it improved with his later novels