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Seth, Vikram

india novel music saga

(Indian, 1952– )

Vikram Seth was born in Calcutta and educated in India and the universities of Oxford and Stanford. He established himself as a poet, and author of a verse novel, The Golden Gate (1986), before writing the novel that has brought him mass readership, A Suitable Boy (1993). It is a long, sprawling, fascinating family saga set in post-independence India. It concerns four families, both Hindu and Muslim, and their interlocking stories. The central character, Lata, and her mother have different ideas on what constitutes a suitable boy for Lata to marry. There is gentle social comedy, detailed political analysis, and romance, all set against the vividly realized backdrop of India in the 1950s. An Equal Music (1999) is set in Europe and is a love-story about a violinist who pursues the woman he loved and lost in his youth; she is now married, and—terrible fate for a musician—increasingly deaf. Seth explores the hothouse world of a professional quartet, and writes brilliantly about music.

Isabel Allende, John Galsworthy, Arundhati Roy, Paul Scott. See FAMILY SAGA, INDIA  SA

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