Whitaker's Reviews > A Suitable Boy

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
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Jul 16, 14

bookshelves: 2011-read, contemporary-fiction, india, recommended-unreservedly, would-kill-if-thrown, 3965p-box1
Read from October 07 to 24, 2011

I know some GR’ers didn’t really cotton on to the style of this book. And maybe it was because I read this while on vacation in India itself, but wow! Just W.O.W! It’s a fucking long book—1,500 pages. And every single page was worth the time I spent on it and more.

If Midnight’s Children is India’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, then A Suitable Boy must be its War and Peace. It’s got the same melding of personal lives seen in amidst great national events. Instead of the romance of Natasha and Pierre, it’s that of Lata and her three suitors. Instead of the war with France, we have the post-Independence and post-Partition politics of a nation searching for an identity. And instead of descriptions of war, we get exchanges of heated debate on the floor of the state parliament, and the passing of a contentious bill.

Seth looks at the lives of four families intertwined by marriage and friendship. And all the detail—and it is indeed loving detail—is very very necessary to immerse you in the India of the 1950s, and what it felt like to be alive then. We get details of village life, life in the city, life of the different castes, business life, religious life, modern life, traditional life. It’s all there. And it works in tandem with several great stories of love and passion, and what these mean, both at the level of family, romance, and nation.

Word has it that Seth is working on a follow up (not sure if it’s a sequel as such) to be called “A Suitable Girl”. I, for one, can’t wait.


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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Manny (new) - added it

Manny I just don't know why I haven't read this. I love The Golden Gate and have read it at least five times... I can't explain it!


message 2: by notgettingenough (last edited Oct 28, 2011 07:17AM) (new)

notgettingenough Manny wrote: "I just don't know why I haven't read this. I love The Golden Gate and have read it at least five times... I can't explain it!"

Maybe because one of them is a poem and therefore succinct and the other is a novel that doesn't stop. Sort of an American supersized get a free upgrade to an extra large fries too.

The amazing thing is not that you haven't read this novel, but that people who read his other stuff largely haven't read The Golden Gate. My understanding is that short books don't go down well in America, the obesity thing extending to reading. Is that true? Somebody who should have known told me....


message 3: by Chris (new)

Chris I have this in three volumes. I need to read the last one.


Grace Tjan I love this book. I remember taking it to the office, intending to read it during lunch break or between meetings --- it ended up gobbling up a lot of the time that I was supposed to use for working. My time sheet was a mess during the time that I was reading it. It's that addictive.

I also love War and Peace, so maybe I'm a literary chubby chaser. I don't mind supersized books as long as they are as good as those two.


Whitaker Thanks guys. It IS a really good book isn't it?

Chris, you really need to read the last volume. But if it's been a while since you read the first two, will you remember the various characters?


message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian Klappenskoff Welcome back. We all missed you.


Whitaker Ian wrote: "Welcome back. We all missed you."

Awwww. It's nice to be missed. And nice to be back too. :-)


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