The assignment says I should argue the merits of my chosen author who is to be inducted into the Literary Hall of Fame. My book is Q & A by Vikas Swarup. It was later adapted into the movie...

The assignment says I should argue the merits of my chosen author who is to be inducted into the Literary Hall of Fame. My book is Q & A by Vikas Swarup. It was later adapted into the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

I am asked to examine his other works and if they fit into this genre. But I haven't read any other of his works.  Can someone help me articulate how he identifies with culture or cultural identity? Why is his prose so masterful that it belongs in the LHoF?

I am thinking the major themes of this novel are greed, bullying, and social prejudices. What are the best examples of these themes? How is his style or theme reflected in symbolism?  What contribution has he left on Indian and American culture?

*I failed my first English assignment this year so this is really important. Unfortunately it is not my strong subject. It will be an oral presentation. Thanks in advance.

Expert Answers
dashing-danny-dillinger eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Vikas Swarup has an interesting place within the Western literary canon because he presents an authentically Indian voice and vividly portrays the conflict between Indians and Western culture. India was at one point under the colonial rule of England, and British imperialism and its tremendous effects are just beneath the surface of Swarup’s novels. Like many postcolonial novelists, Swarup examines how British imperialism affected his region, and he juxtaposes Indian cultural elements with Western-influenced culture; this is prominently on display in novels such as Q&A and Six Suspects. This, for me, is one major reason why Swarup deserves to be inducted into this imagined Literary Hall of Fame.

The themes you hope to examine are solid. Personally, I am most interested in how Swarup addresses social prejudices in his novel. More specifically, Swarup illustrates the distrust that exists between individuals of disparate socioeconomic statuses. Ram Mohammed Thomas is under scrutiny for winning a quiz show specifically because he is from a lower socioeconomic status. When he meets his lawyer early in the novel, she is incredulous that he had the ability to answer all twelve questions correctly. He becomes frustrated by her suspicion, and calls out her attitude:

“The look of utter disbelief on Smita’s face says it all. I can take it no longer. I erupt in sadness and anger. ‘I know what you are thinking. Like Godbole, you wonder what I was doing on that quiz show. Like Godbole, you believe I am only good for serving chicken fry and whisky in a restaurant. That I am meant to live life like a dog, and die like an insect’” (17).

That potent imagery that Swarup uses when he compares Ram’s life to that of a dog or insect brilliantly reflects Ram’s marginalized position within Indian society. He does not have the same prospects as those above him, and he is treated as subhuman as a result. This can be seen in many of the scenes from his poverty-stricken life.

Thus, Swarup deserves to be included in this fictional Literary Hall of Fame because he addresses the concerns of Indian citizens; he holds an important position within Western literature because he presents readers with an authentic Indian voice and examines the issues inherent with modern India.

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