- Paperback: 1488 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reissue edition (October 4, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060786523
- ISBN-13: 978-0060786526
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 2.4 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 256 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Suitable Boy: A Novel (Modern Classics) Paperback – October 4, 2005
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About the Author
Vikram Seth has written acclaimed books in several genres: verse novel, The Golden Gate; travel book, From Heaven Lake; animal fables, Beastly Tales; epic fiction, A Suitable Boy. His most recent novel, An Equal Music, was published in 1999. He lives in England and India.
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I can offer only a hint, which is this: if you love long Russian novels, with their slow development of plot and characters, and immensely detailed stories, then you will very likely fall in love with this book, as I did. I'm not a big Tolstoy fan - I find he has too little compassion for his characters - but I love Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov - a huge, sprawling novel very like this one - remains one of the half dozen books that I'd choose if I were stuck on a desert island.
By around page 6 of this book I had fallen in love with both the writing style and all the characters, and when it was finally completed I felt like I had been cut off from a family. I never wanted this book to end, and it is still one of my favorite novels, one that a couple of years ago I read aloud to my wife over several weeks (she loved it also). The comparisons of Seth with the great Russian novelists are, for me, not at all misplaced: A Suitable Boy is a major literary achievement. The writing is perfectly balanced, the narrative brilliantly constructed, and the plot is a rich, multi-dimensional story spanning long periods and painted across the broad, evocative canvas that is post-Partition India.
If you're still in doubt about whether it's for you, read the first 15 or 20 pages... if you find it slow or otherwise not for you, go elsewhere. But if you love the writing of those opening pages, I can pretty much guarantee that you will love the rest of this remarkable, utterly satisfying novel.
Many reviewers have also commented about how this is a sprawling family drama, which almost doesn't do justice to the way you, the reader, infiltrate these characters' lives, and that you learn an awful lot about Indian history. That is very true, and in fact, I think I know more about 1950's India, and Indian history in general, from reading this book than I do from a class I took in college on the subject, but A Suitable Boy isn't a history book. Seth doesn't wonder away from the story for a not-so-brief lecture on the history of land rights in India, he weaves these social and political concerns so effortlessly into the backdrop of this story that you're almost surprised in the end by how much you've learned.
So if you're on the fence, not really sure if it's too long, or too dense, or if you're not a history or Indian culture buff, stop worrying. This book has something for absolutely everyone, and will make you love each and every one of the characters. From the moment Lata's mother declares she intends to find a husband for her daughter, to the very last page, you will be completely enthralled by this world.