Vikas Swarup, a former diplomat and author whose debut novel, Q&A, was adapted into the Oscar award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire as the academy’s best picture for 2009, will receive an honorary degree from the University of Guelph on June 16.
Swarup wrote Q&A “in two months when he was posted in London” as a diplomat for the Indian Foreign Service (2000-03), according to his website. Published in 2005, the writer’s first novel won several international awards and was short-listed for the Best First Book by the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. It has since been published in more than 40 languages.
The on-screen version of Q&A, Slumdog Millionaire, won a total of eight Oscars, including best picture and best adapted screenplay.
Swarup penned two additional novels: Six Suspects in 2008, and The Accidental Apprentice, in 2013. Each volume focuses on India’s multiple realities, highlighting the struggles, hopes and successes of everyday people in the country.
Longtime diplomat worked to strengthen Indo-Canadian relations
Beyond his work as a writer, Swarup served a long and distinguished career in India’s Foreign Service. His work included diplomatic positions in Turkey, the United States, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Japan.
Swarup was India’s High Commissioner to Canada from 2017 to 2020, where he focused his efforts on strengthening Indo-Canadian relations. He retired from the Indian Foreign Service in 2021 after a 30-year career in international relations.
A strong supporter of U of G’s Canada India Research Centre for Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), Swarup is also connected to the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute and has visited universities in every region of Canada.
Swarup was born in Allahabad, India, in 1961. He graduated from Allahabad University where he received a degree in history, philosophy and psychology. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1986.
Community Event: Conversations on ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
Before receiving his honorary degree from U of G, Swarup will take part in a community event hosted by CIRCLE. It will take place at The Bookshelf on June 15, 7-8:30 p.m. The event is supported by U of G Alumni Affairs and Development.
The evening will feature Dr. Madhur Anand, a professor in the School of Environmental Sciences, interviewing Swarup alongside human rights activist and lawyer Reema Patel. Both Anand and Patel are authors themselves.
Anand won the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for non-fiction for her experimental memoir, This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart: A Memoir of Halves. Her first collection of poems, A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes, was published in 2015 and was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award.
Anand has gained international recognition for her studies of the impact of globalization and climate change on ecosystems. She is also the inaugural director of U of G’s Guelph Institute for Environmental Research.
Patel published her debut novel, Such Big Dreams, last month.