Vikas Swarup was born in Allahabad (India) in a family of lawyers.
After his schooling, Vikas attended Allahabad University and studied History, Psychology and Philosophy. He also made his mark as a champion debater, winning National level competitions. After graduating with distinction, he joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1986, motivated by an interest in international relations and a desire to explore different cultures.
In his diplomatic career, Vikas has been posted to various countries such as Turkey (1987-1990), the United States (1993-1997) Ethiopia (1997-2000), the United Kingdom (2000-2003) and South Africa (2006-2009). He served as Consul General of India in Osaka-Kobe, Japan from 2009 to 2013. Currently, he is posted in New Delhi as Joint Secretary (United Nations – Political).
He penned his first novel, Q&A, in two months, when he was posted in London. Published in 2005 by Doubleday/Random House (UK & Commonwealth), Harper Collins (Canada) and Scribner (US) it has been published in 43 languages including Arabic, French, German, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Polish, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Taiwanese, Thai, and Hebrew. It was short listed for the Best First Book by the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and won South Africa’s Exclusive Books Boeke Prize 2006 as well as the Paris Book Fair’s Reader’s Prize, the Prix Grand Public, in 2007. It was voted the Most Influential Book of 2008 in Taiwan, and winner of the Best Travel Read (Fiction) at the Heathrow Travel Product Award 2009.
Harper Collins brought out the audio book, read by Kerry Shale, which won the award for Best Audio Book of the Year 2005. The BBC produced a radio play based on the book which won the Gold Award for Best Drama at the Sony Radio Academy Awards 2008 and the IVCA Clarion Award 2008. The film version of Q&A, titled ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, directed by Danny Boyle, took the world by storm, winning more than 70 awards including four Golden Globes, 7 BAFTAs and a staggering 8 Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.
Vikas’s second novel, Six Suspects, was released in the UK & Commonwealth by Transworld in August 2008. Published by Harper Collins in Canada and St Martin’s Press in the US, it has sold translation rights in 30 languages. Radio 4 commissioned a radio play based on the novel. It has been optioned for a film by the BBC and Starfield Productions. John Hodge, who wrote the script for films like Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and The Beach, has been commissioned to write the screenplay.
Vikas’ third novel, “The Accidental Apprentice” was published by Simon & Schuster in the UK and Commonwealth in 2013. It was released in the US in July 2014 by St. Martin’s Press. It is also being translated into all major languages. The Indian language film rights have been acquired by Matchbox Films and the Bollywood version is expected to be directed by noted filmmaker Sriram Raghvan.
Vikas contributed a short story titled ‘A Great Event’ to ‘The Children’s Hours: Stories of Childhood’, a bold and moving anthology of stories about childhood to support Save the Children and raise awareness for its fight to end violence against children.
Vikas has participated in literary festivals and book fairs around the world including the Oxford Literary Festival, the Turin International Book Fair, the Auckland Writers’ Conference, the Sydney Writers’ Festival, the Kitab Festival in New Delhi, the St. Malo International Book & Film Festival in France, the ‘Words on Water’ Literary Festival at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, the Jaipur Literature Festival, the Franschhoek Literary Festival in South Africa, the Ubud Writer’s Festival in Bali, the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature in Dubai, the Manila International Literary Festival, the Seoul Digital Forum, the Reykjavik International Literary Festival and the Singapore Writers Festival. He was also an invitee to the Reader’s Forum of World Expo 2010 in Shanghai and attended the 33rd Cairo International Film Festival as a jury member for the International Competition for Feature Digital Films. He was one of the three judges for the Man Asian Literary prize 2011 which was awarded in Hong Kong on March 15, 2012.
Vikas is the recipient of the US-India Business Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award for “Contributing to the Cultural Ties that Bind” and received the award from USIBC Chairman Indra K. Nooyi at the USIBC’s 34th Anniversary Gala Reception in Washington D.C. on June 16, 2009.
He is also the recipient of a degree of Doctor of Literature & Philosophy (honoris causa) from the University of South Africa (UNISA), the largest university in South Africa and one of the largest distance education institutions in the world.
He has written for TIME, Newsweek, The Guardian, The Telegraph (UK), The Financial Times (UK), British Airway’s in-flight magazine HighLife, Singapore Airlines’ in-flight magazine SilverKris, DNA (India), Outlook (India) and Liberation (France).
Apart from reading, Vikas enjoys listening to music and playing cricket, tennis and table tennis.
His wife Aparna is an artist who has held exhibitions in India and abroad. They have two sons Aditya and Varun.