Leigh-ann's Reviews > Q & A

Q & A by Vikas Swarup
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's review
Dec 30, 2008

really liked it
Read in December, 2008

I was torn about how to rate this book. On one hand, I just loved the unusual plot, and could have easily given it 5 stars. On the other hand, wow, I don't remember the last time I read anything so blatantly homophobic. Three different male characters, two of whom are clearly identified as "gay", were predatory pedophiles who abused young boys. A third man was also a pedophile who abused young boys, but at least the author never claimed he was gay. I didn't feel any of these characterizations were necessary elements of the plot, either, so they just seemed gratuitous. It's too bad, because this book could have easily made my list of my favourite novels of all time, but the homophobic overtones sort of ruined it for me.
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03/04/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Lindsie (new)

Lindsie Augustin Hi there,

I was looking at some of your past reviews and books on your shelf and I thought you would be interested to know that there’s a new book by Vikas Swarup the author of Slumdog Millionaire called Six Suspects out today. In fact Minotaur Books is giving away free signed copies! http://us.macmillan.com/smp/promo/six...

They even have a Q&A with Vikas Swarup--- http://us.macmillan.com/sixsuspects
and you can meet the “suspects” in the story. It has gotten great reviews and promises to be a thrilling summer read.


Beck While I am usually on the watch for homophobia and heterosexism, too, I do think it's probably important to consider the cultural context in this case. Only last July (2009) did India decriminalize consensual sex between two adult members of the same sex, so...to portray positive, healthy queerness in a book that's not primarily about that (and is tackling some other important socioeconomic issues, including child abuse)...would be rather tough/off-topic. Also a bit like talking about Huck Finn being racist. Does that make sense (but hopefully not excuses)?

Leigh-ann Beck, my complaint about the homophobia in the book was that the author wrote about pedophiles but identified them as homosexual. If India isn't accepting of same-sex relationships then that's their cultural prerogative, but it's simply factually incorrect to try label someone who is sexually attracted to children as homosexual or heterosexual -- they're neither. I don't necessarily need representations of positive gay relationships in what I read, but I would like it if crimes like sexual abuse of children weren't treated like normal gay behavior. Healthy homosexual (and heterosexual) adults have relationships with other adults. Adults who want to have sexual relationships with children are in a different category altogether.

message 4: by Dovetail (new)

Dovetail hi im just reading the book now and so far i like it too. After having spent over 3 years living in India, i think i can say i understand the culture quite well. So you're comments about the injustice of calling pedophiles gay is, although quite educated, completely out of context. The Indian culture has never experienced a sexual revolution quite like western culture. Therefore there are a lot people incapable of acknowledging their own sexuality. This results in higher amounts of 'closet cases' (so to speak). The actor described in chapter 2 for example is one of these cases. I believe that the author is trying to teach us something about sexual culture in India through these examples. By the way, in all the three years i lived in India i never once set foot in those old types of theaters for the simple reason that i was warned, as a foreign woman, i would find myself a target of sexual harassment very easily. Its just the way it is there and i accepted that.

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