Ram Mohammed Thomas is an orphan, abandoned as a newborn by his mother outside an orphanage. He is lucky to fall into the hands of a priest who is the best father he could have had. But an unfortunate chain of events force him to lead an eclectic life, trying to survive the misfortunes that befall him. On a positive side, his experiences give him enough knowledge to be able to win the biggest prize ever in a quiz show.
What makes the book so pedestrian is the lacklustre style. It is the most un-beautiful language I have read in recent times. Even some crappy chicklit I read a while back was decently styled compared to this. I wish Vikas Swarup had taken some help, I don't think he lacked any. Surely it was his clout as an Ambassador to wherever that helped him in getting his book published in the first place.
Apart from the crappy language, at times the episodes seem a bit jerky, but I suspect, had the style been better, the jerkiness would have been ironed out.
It is a pity, because the idea is good. Ram Mohammed Thomas is an everyman sort of a fellow. His nomadic lifestyle, and exposure to different homes help him absorb knowledge. For instance, it is from his stint in the home of an Ambassador that he learns the Australian language, and also the meaning of the term persona non grata. It is from his stint as a servant of a famous but faded film star that he learns which movie won her the national award for best actress.
Alas Alas !
Now what remains to be seen is Slumdog Millionaire and if it is any good.