The book covers an engaging story that is set in the post-independence India. The story unfolds through four middle class families—Mehras, Kapoors, Khans and Chatterjis. It also describes India's caste system that has four main classes, which are further based originally on personality, profession and birth.
However, the main plot of the novel revolves around Lata Mehra, a university student, who is under pressure of her mother Rupa and brother Arun for getting married. Her family is looking for a ‘suitable boy’ who could meet the standards set by her family. After explaining the life of Lata and people around her, the plot shifts to the suitors named Haresh, Amit and Karan, who come to meet Lata.
The novel highlights how marriage in India becomes a family affair, where all members of a family play considerable parts. It also focuses on typical problems that were faced by India soon after independence. Some of the major issues mentioned in the book are tensions between Hindus and Muslims, empowerment of women and the zamindari system.
Divided into 19 parts, each chapter in the book is about different characters which keep inter-relating the stories and, at last reach, to one conclusion. For instance, in the beginning the book covers Lata’s life and proceeds further to explain about Maan Kapoor, a sex worker. The third story is again about Lata, whereas the fourth one focuses on Haresh’s life. The author has beautifully explained and intertwined the lives of all the characters in an extraordinary manner.
Regarded as one of the classic examples of Indian Literature in English, A Suitable Boy, at around 1500 pages, remains to be one of the lengthiest novels ever published in English language in a single volume.
About the author:
Vikram Seth is one of india’s most acclaimed English novelists. Born in 1952 in Calcutta, he was educated in india, England and the US. He also studied Chinese at Nanjing University in China His first novel, published in 1986, was the highly acclaimed The Golden Gate. He has also published numerous poetry anthologies. Vikram Seth has been honored with many awards including Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, Padma Shri and the WH Smith Literary Award.
- 'The best writer of his generation.' - The Times
- 'Not merely one of the longest novels in English; it may also prove to be the most fecund as well as the most prodigious work of the latter half of [the twentieth] century.' - The Times
- 'A phenomenon, a prodigy, a marvel of 19th century storytelling in the language of today. It is hard to believe that Seth is only one man. He writes with the omniscience and authority of a large, orderly committee of experts on Indian politics, law, medicine, crowd psychology, urban and rural social customs, dress, cuisine, horticulture, funerary rites, cricket and even the technicalities of shoe manufacture.' - Evening Standard
- 'A quietly monumental novel [Seth] has given us that unlikeliest of hybrids, a modest tour de force.' - Times Literary Supplement
- 'Conceived on the grand scale of the great 19th century novels - War and Peace, Middlemarch - A Suitable Boy grows to match them in breadth and depth' - Sunday Times
- 'An immensely enjoyable novel which describes with unhurried pace the panorama of India Everything appears familiar to us, yet in fact it is newly minted by a master artist.' - Hindustan Times
- 'So vast and so amiably peopled [A Suitable Boy] is a long, sweet, sleepless pilgrimage to life [The novel] covers India like a sun, warming a whole country in its historical rays It is almost impossible to imagine an unswayed reader.' - Guardian
- 'We should be grateful for this panoramic sweep which revives in our memory a period when a whole way of life came to an end [Seth's] sure touch is really quite incredible, his characters are consistent from beginning to end.' - The Hindu
- 'Puts a subcontinent between (its) covers hundreds of people stream into view and are illuminated by the brilliant, warm lucidity of Vikram Seth's regard [A] massive and magnificent book.' - The Sunday Times