Length: 318 pages
Setting: India, present day
Interest: I was looking for an audio book for an 11-hour car trip. This one caught my eye because I recognized the title from the movie. The back copy made it sound interesting, and it was the perfect length for my trip.
Summary: Ram Mohammad Thomas is a poor Indian Waiter who has just won the new Indian game show “Who Wants to Win a Billion?” The producer doesn’t believe Ram could have won without cheating, so Ram is arrested. A lawyer gets him out of jail and then listens to the stories which explain how Ram could answer each question. For most of the questions, one period of Ram’s life provided the answer. We learn his life story in a non-linear fashion as he talks about growing up with a Catholic priest and then an orphanage, working with an Australian diplomat and a Bollywood film star, and then as a bartender. Eventually, we find out Ram really went on the game show to kill the host who abused a prostitute Ram loves.
Final thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. I can see why it was made into a movie, because all of the flashbacks had such a cinematic aspect to them. The audio version was delightful to listen to since each character was voiced in its appropriate accent.
You basically get Ram’s life story, but in piece-meal form instead of from beginning to end. Ram’s life was so different from anything I’ve ever experienced because it was set in India. Half the fun of the story was trying to figure out where this particular episode fit among the stories. I was also shocked when I found out Ram had an ulterior motive for going on the quiz show. He didn’t actually know all the answers, since the host changed the second question when he learned Ram didn’t know the answer, but he was still lucky he could answer the rest form his life’s adventures.
Title comes from: The quiz show format for the original title. The fact that Ram came from the slums yet won the big prize provided the U.S. title.
Reading challenges fulfilled: none, since this was an audiobook (which is disappointing since I could have gotten a Q title out of it).
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