In his debut novel, Vikas Swarup, an Indian diplomat, tells about life in modern India from the viewpoint of an orphan who changes several places of residence and jobs during his teen years. The story is not told in a conventional way, however. The presentation is very original - in the beginning we find out that Ram Muhammad Thomas was arrested after having won the biggest television Q & A show in India (and the world), winning 1 billion rupees (24 million US dollars, by today's rate). He was arrested because being just a poor 18-year old orphan working as a waiter who won a difficult quiz show, the show organizers suspected he was cheating. However, and this is how the plot unfolds, Ram wasn't cheating. Rather, by a sheer coincidence, all the questions touched on topics he knew about from discrete incidents in the past few years of his life. As he sits in the police department with a lawyer, he tells her about each episode, after which they see the recording of the relevant question of the show. If the original way of presentation was the only good thing about the book, it would only be average. However, the book also provides an exciting and fascinating glimpse into the life in modern India. Well written and full of both common day-life and historical facts about the densely populated peninsula, it is both pleasant to read and provides lots of interesting information. Recommended.

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