This is one of the longest books in single volume that I have read. It was released with lot of hype in 1993. To some extent it lived up to the expectation but still it was a very long book. I remember having struggled to get it from library for reading. The story of “A Suitable Boy” is about a mother’s search for a suitable bridegroom for her daughter Lata’s marriage. Lata is young and vulnerable and ready to fall in love and not get influenced by her mother’s choices. At the same time, there are pressures of society and culture. But with that central story the book is also a commentary on post Independence India.
Vikram Seth has created a vast network of characters and family trees and through them he is talking about all the issues that were influencing the country at that time. It covers caste issues, land reforms, crumbling feudal system, academic affairs, social relationships in various communities and host of other issues. In a way this book has multiple stories going on simultaneously but the author is bringing them together with a common thread.
Even though the author has handled his story very well, the book is long and takes a lot of time and since the characters are related in complex way, it requires to be read without too much gap. I still have one grudge against the author. He translated a very good hindi song in English and presented only English version in the book. He should have retained the hindi version in English alphabet as well. The song was “Uth Jaag Musafir Bhor Bhai” that is “Get up traveller it is morning”
I have been reading that he is planning to come up with a sequel to the book where Lata will be searching for a “A Suitable Girl” for her grandson. I am looking forward to getting my hands on that as soon as it comes out.