Q & A is a novel by Vikas Swarup, an Indian diplomat. Published in 2005, it was the author's first novel. Set in India, it tells the story of Ram Mohammad Thomas, a poor young waiter who becomes the biggest quiz-show winner in history, only to be sent to jail on accusations (but with no evidence or proof) that he cheated. It was the basis of the 2008 feature film Slumdog Millionaire, which won 7 BAFTA's and 8 Oscars.
Narrated in the first person, the novel follows the life of the young waiter as he explains to his sympathetic lawyer, Smita Shah, just how he managed to answer twelve random questions, by pure luck. As he says, "Well, wasn't I lucky they only asked those questions to which I knew the answers?"
Ram goes on to tell her how by drawing from the experiences of his own short, yet turbulent and sometimes cruel life he, a poor, young waiter, managed to answer the twelve questions that led him to the jackpot.
The author has said that he was inspired by the Hole in the Wall project which installed a computer in a Delhi slum. Young children taught themselves about the use of computers without intervention from the experimenters
This production gains much from Shale's excellent and lively performance. The text could easily have been overdone but Shale makes it sincere, hilarious, heartbreaking and delightful.
Ram Muhammad Thomas;a young orphan with no formal education;correctly answers all 12 questions on Who Wants to Win a Billion? and is arrested and jailed when the unscrupulous quiz-show producers, reluctant to pay out the winnings, accuse him of cheating. In order to prove his innocence, he recounts his life story in 12 interludes, each eventually explaining the extraordinary circumstances that taught him one of the answers. Ram's life, full of horrors, becomes an allegory for all the problems of the lower classes in India, and the fantastic situations that lead him to win the quiz show take on mythic proportions. Ram's appeal lies in his childlike openness and wonder, and that of the story lies in hearing a full life unwind from the tiniest of details. Each tale is peopled by memorable characters;some recurring;and Shale gives each a distinct voice. His gifted reading, full of emphasis, inflection and excitement, is a joy to listen to.