Friday, April 18, 2008

Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy ...

... finally in available in a Dutch translation

‘You too will marry a boy I choose,’ said Mrs Rupa firmly to her younger daughter.
This is the opening sentence of Vikram Seth’s brilliant novel A Suitable Boy, first published in 1993 and instantly becoming a world bestseller. Now, 15 years later, the book will finally appear in a Dutch translation - De Geschikte Jongen - that is slated for release in Amsterdam on Friday 25th April.

It took Seth some ten years to finish his magnus opus, and with over 1400 pages Seth’s magnus opus does not exactly qualify as a short story ;-)

Vikram Seth himself will be in the Netherlands to celebrate the occasion. On Thursday 24th April he will do a reading and signing session at De Duif, Prinsengracht 756 in Amsterdam. He will be interviewed by renown Dutch journalist Jeroen van Kan. It all starts at 20.00 hrs. Want to be there? Please order your tickets through

If 24th April does not suit your schedule, you get a second chance on Friday 25th April. At nine o'clock in th evening, Seth will give a lecture in the Public Library of Amsterdam as part of the International Literature Festival. And no, it is not for free. You do have to pay € 7,50.

So who is Vikram Seth?

Vikram Seth was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1952. He took his A-levels in the UK and was trained as an economist at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Seth presently lives near Salisbury, England.

Dad Seth, was an executive of the Bata India Limited shoe company who migrated to post-Partition India from West Punjab in Pakistan. Mum-dear Leila was the first woman judge on the Delhi High Court as well as the first woman to become Chief Justice of a state High Court, at Simla.

His younger sister, Aradhana, is a film-maker married to an Austrian diplomat, and has worked on Deepa Mehta's controversial movies Earth and Fire (yes the one with Shabana and Nandita).

Seth has always been candid in acknowledging that many of his fictional characters are drawn from life; he has said that only the dog Cuddles in A Suitable Boy has his real name — "Because he can't sue". Justice Leila Seth has said in her memoir On Balance that other characters in A Suitable Boy are composites but Haresh is a portrait of her husband Prem.)

A Suitable Boy

A Suitable Boy centres on Mrs. Rupa Mehra’s efforts to arrange the marriage of her younger daughter, Lata, with a “suitable boy”. At the heart of the novel it is a love story, set in a young, newly independent India. The fictional town, Brahmpur, along with Calcutta, Delhi, Kanpur and other Indian cities, forms a colourful backdrop for the emerging stories.

Lata is a 19-year-old college girl, vulnerable, yet determined to have her own way, and not be influenced by her strong mother and opinionated brother, Arun. Her story revolves around the choice she is forced to make between her suitors, Kabir, Haresh and Amit.

The novel is not simply based on one story. This epic novel covers the various issues faced by post-independence India, including Hindu-Muslim strife, the abolition of the Zamindari system, land reforms and the empowerment of Muslim women.

PS Rumour has it that the book is being made into a film ...