Home > Literature > Vikas Swarup – bad writer and rather ignorant, it seems.

Vikas Swarup – bad writer and rather ignorant, it seems.


Ahhh Vikas Vikas. What will we do with you? Why did you try to pack in as much crap as possible into one little narrative? Now I’m aware that the format you have chosen for your book, the random questions from a gameshow coinciding with events from the kid’s life in no particular order, allows you lots of “creativity” but why does your “creativity” have to have such lame and even ignorant results?

How did you manage, by page 168 (not even halfway) to incorporate film star pedophiles, Australian diplomats-cum-spies and even a Haitian voodoo practitioner (who apparently also is really good at sex, yay!) into an already eventful few chapters? I think just the regular poverty/crime/mafia/domestic violence/killing/slum-dwelling would have been more than enough to keep people entertained, dont you? I mean I would’ve thought that ridiculously philosophical 10 year olds with amazing vocabularies was enough implausibility

And on the topic of Haitian voodoo, get an education man! All I needed to do was look at wikipedia to know that all that black magic and voodoo dolls crap is bogus! It’s a myth! A MYTH! And it makes about as much sense as an Australian spy (honestly WHY would the Aussies want to spy on India, cricketing tips?)

I can clearly see why Danny decided to ditch like 75% of the book:

Mr. Swarup allows himself the occasional grimace in talking about the numerous changes in the script. But, ever the diplomat, he says the screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy, and the director, Danny Boyle, stayed “faithful to the central narrative structure.” [NYTimes]

The occasional grimace? Faithful to the central narrative structure? Dude, the man (and his scriptwriters) turned a lousy book into a decent film! You should be pleased with how many copies of an otherwise dreadful novel you’ve been able to sell!

The novelist Salman Rushdie savaged the novel as “a corny potboiler” and “the kind of fantasy writing that gives fantasy writing a bad name.” [NYT]

Say what you want about Salman but the man has a point, I’d say “corny potboiler” is actually rather mild in comparison to what the book deserves. Vikas, in turn, never skipping a beat replied thusly:

Mr. Swarup was certainly stung by the criticisms, but said he understood the strong reactions.

“Indians are sensitive to the way their country is represented, but the film was not a documentary on slum life,” said Mr. Swarup. “Slums provide the backdrop to the story of the courage and determination of this boy who beats the odds.”

Oh dearie, he was stung. Vikas mate, I don’t think it’s the slums that are the issue… I think it’s more… you know… the Haitian voodoo maybe? Wtf?

More ranting about the book here if you missed my earlier post. Looking forward to more good times as I approach the halfway mark, lol.

Categories: Literature Tags: , , ,
  1. Fatima Awadh
    April 3, 2009 at 10:03 am

    haha.. Its always quite entertaining to read the works of pissed off bloggers..

    But I think you’ve wasted more than enough time on this crappy book, Alex. I wholeheartedly thank you, nevertheless, for sparing me from feelings of ‘contriteness’ that are bound to follow from me wasting time on this book 😛

  2. alexlobov
    April 3, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    lol yes you will find contrite indeed, but no no not enough time, i have a policy of never leaving a book unfinished and honestly blogging out my frustrations makes it far more bearable 🙂

  3. Gazrat
    April 7, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    First, a related but irrelevant story:

    I started watching this film on a flight from Hong Kong back to Japan, and it cut out 1 hour 46 minutes into it, just as a woman answers a phone in a climactic scene and says “hello”. (Trying to be unspoilerific.) Why did the movie cut out then? Why!? I felt so contrite for waiting to start it after the food came.

    Well, I saw the rest of it thanks to the internets, and am now looking at the reactions. I am indeed looking forward to the rest of your impressions of the book. Cbf reading it myself.

  4. alexlobov
    April 8, 2009 at 12:31 am

    @Gazrat, yeah don’t bother it’s shit, I’ve got about 100 pages to go and I’ll blog some more highlights soon… I’m sure you must’ve felt contrite, I do reflect on your uncomplicated ambitions of simply wanting to finish a film…

  5. Gail
    April 9, 2009 at 6:38 am

    😀 Your ranting makes for a rather entertaining read. I haven’t read the book so i’m really shocked to hear about spies and vodoo and child molesting film stars…as far as i remember these lil tit bits of fun were not included in the movie, am i right? I can’t wait to hear more, keep reading for us all Ally! I salute your resolve to never leave a book unread. I would use “contrite” and “uncomplicated ambitions” but i cbf seeing as how so many of you’ll have done such a damn good job.

  6. alexlobov
    April 9, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    lol yeah theyre a bunch of funny bastards arent they, using the same words i criticised in witty comments, ahhhh my blog readership is just so sophisticated.
    Anyways I shall indeed take the fall for you all and read this monstrosity of a book. I’ve read a bit more since this post and well so far he has murdered another person (this time a bandit on a train, heroically no less) and been implicated in the murder of yet another (which he didnt commit), hes also just been taken to a brothel and had his cherry popped. woOt!
    Thank God none of this shit was in the movie man, it wouldnt have gotten anywhere near an Oscar if it was…

  7. kul65
    May 30, 2009 at 7:31 am

    I think you’re reading way too much into the details of the novel. Here’s talking from one who’s read the book and hasn’t seen the movie yet. I find it to have a very intriguing plot (that though must be read twice before actually making sense) and one of the most original ideas ever. You can go on complaining about a book being lowlier than the soundtrack-powered, screenplay-affected, pictured film, however in my opinion that is just the cry of the uneducated/besserweisser-esque hermit, arguing with the small details in mind. No offense.

  8. alexlobov
    May 30, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    @Kul65 – none taken. people have different tastes in books. I prefer to read good, original writing of quality and people who have something to say with what they’ve written. Let me put it this way, there’s a good reason why Swarup will never be nominated for any literary prizes. Now there are plenty (and I mean millions) of people in this world who love nothing better than a good dose of pulp escapism which is why writers like Stephanie Meyer (Twilight series) and Dan Brown have sold millions of copies. I, however, consider those books trash and don’t bother reading them.

    Thus the point is that it’s not the details of the novel that I disapprove of, it’s the plot (Rushdie’s “corny potboiler” is a perfect description) and Swarup’s style of writing (coarse, primitive and unrefined) that I take issue with. And for the record, I am not complaining that the book is worse than the film (though in my opinion it is). I am simply stating that it is a bad book when compared to other books. And for me, it’s laughably bad, which is why i chose to post in this way about it.

    Oh and I agree, the idea was original, I respect that. Perhaps Swarup is good at coming up with ideas. Unfortunately he’s very bad at turning those ideas into good literature, ie. writing.

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