“The Accidental Apprentice”- VikasSwarup – 16ᵗʰ October 2015

Our October Book Club event was a talk by well-known author Mr. Vikas Swarup who is the head of the External Publicity and Public diplomacy divisions of the Ministry of External Affairs. Vikas Swarup spoke at length about his first book Q&A, penned in two months while he was posted in the UK. This book went on to be published in 43 languages and was shortlisted for the Best First Book by the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and subsequently made into a film, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ by Danny Boyle, winning more than 70 awards, including four Golden Globes, seven BAFTAs and eight Oscars.

He then went on to talk about his third and most recent book, The Accidental Apprentice, published by Simon and Schuster in 2013.  Set in the heart of Delhi, the book is a thriller with an interesting story. An ordinary salesgirl working in an electronics boutique in downtown Delhi, Sapna Sinha meets Vinay Mohan Acharya, a billionaire industrialist who offers to make her the CEO of his company provided she passes seven tests from ‘the textbook of life’. The story unravels as Sapna faces one test after another, each one a challenge that tests her courage, determination and character. She encounters, along her journey a wide spectrum of people, from a vain Bollywood superstar to a kleptomaniac Gandhian. At stake is a business empire worth ten billion dollars. Flashes of life in small town Haryana bring out the underlying societal struggles and in their wake the khap panchayats, which interested many in the audience. After a dramatic and tense story, which included an acid attack on Sapna, we are faced with the dilemmas of life, love, the lure of money, the power of dreams and the need to know who we are. Vikas manages to bring out the nuances of Delhi life with its challenges and struggles, its insecurities and, reassuringly, at the end of the day, the triumph of the human spirit.