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A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
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A Suitable Boy (1993)

by Vikram Seth

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,660911,447 (4.18)1 / 442
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English (84)  Dutch (4)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (91)
Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
I really liked this book, but man, did I feel like I'd finished a marathon when I turned the last page last night. But such an enjoyable read. It reminded me a bit of an Indian Middlemarch.

I've heard that Seth is working on a sequel (A Suitable Girl) and I would pick that up in a heartbeat. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
My nickname for this book is "Behemoth". I am pleased to have read this Behemoth. I regret that it took me 13 months to do so, but life happens. One cannot account for the unexpected.

Similarly, life happens in "A Suitable Boy". The main aspect was a mother's attempt to find a suitable match for her daughter in 1950s India. In the early 1950s, India was trying to regain its footing after British rule. I knew so little about Indian culture. The history and culture are what motivated me to keep reading.

Long narratives and several characters appear throughout "A Suitable Boy". I had a friend who began the book with me. She stopped reading it due to the lengthy narratives claiming she did not have time for it. I saw other reviews where readers stopped because the characters held little interest. I will not deny that the editing could have been improved. Yet, I am pleased by the knowledge I gained from the historical aspect.



( )
  godmotherx5 | Apr 5, 2018 |
India has always held a certain fascination for me. Its teeming, overpopulated cities, the sacred cows, its caste system with its untouchables, and more. I have read parts of Paul Scott's THE RAJ QUARTET (and its sequel, STAYING ON) and a few Jhumpa Lahiri books - which are actually more about Indian-Americans, with only glimpses of India itself. But Vikaram's Seth's A SUITABLE BOY is quite different, in its extremely focused look at a small part of India in a limited time frame - 1951-52, just a few years after Indian independence and the subsequent breakaway of Pakistan. And of course there is the sheer bulk of the book, with its 1,475 pages, which took exactly three weeks of my reading time to get through. Because I am not a speed reader, or even a particularly fast reader. I like to think about what I'm reading, and all the connections and memories that arise from the text.

A SUITABLE BOY is not an easy read. Oh, the core story is fairly straightforward: Mrs Rupa Mehra, a widowed mother of four wants to find a suitable husband for her younger daughter, Lata. And this is the quest that takes over a thousand pages to accomplish. Why? Because of all the other characters, both Hindu and Muslim, in this sprawling novel - the Mehras, the Kapoors, the Chatterjis, the Khans, the Durranis and more. And there is much too about politics - local, regional and national - more than I'd have preferred. (Hence the four stars, vs. what might have easily been a five-star read.)

There are family arguments and feuds, bloody riots between Hindus and Muslims, a shocking crime of passion which nearly nullifies a lifetime friendship. But best of all are the characters, especially Lata and her various suitors, finally narrowed to a field of three, which will keep you turning the pages late into the night. And then, if you are like me, you will dream about them too.

More than once here, this sprawling novel is likened to a banyan tree with its many roots and branches, or to the mighty Ganges with its tributaries and plain. There are multiple incidents here which still seem relevant today - subplots of anti-Muslim sentiment and prejudice, or thousands of striking school teachers demanding better pay. Such elements seem taken from our own today's headlines, yet this book was written over twenty-five years ago, portraying a faraway land nearly seventy years ago.

There is so much more I could write about this giant, complex novel, but frankly I'm tired. If you're interested in India and you like good characters, you'll enjoy this book. It is worth the time invested. I'm glad I persevered. Very highly recommended.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Mar 9, 2018 |
1300 pages !!
  suecrawford | Dec 9, 2017 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2826716.html

It's a great massive epic of India immediately post-independence, told from the point of view of several upper-middle-class families in the fictional capital of a fictional Indian state, though with plenty of real places (and even real people: Nehru makes an appearance at one point). It's full of politics - religious, factional, class, sexual and electoral (I always like a book with a good election campaign; there are not that many of them). British overlordship in much of India lasted less than a century, from 1858 to 1947, and the picture Seth paints is of a society that has thrown off the more recent rulers and is negotiating its own relationship with older but still resident powers. It's a story told with a warm humour that successfully dials down to grimmer tones for moments of tragedy. A really good book from which I think I learned a lot. ( )
  nwhyte | Jun 25, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vikram Sethprimary authorall editionscalculated
Perria, LidiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werner, HoniCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
The superfluous, that very necessary thing...
VOLTAIRE
The secret of being a bore is saying everything.
VOLTAIRE
Dedication
To Papa and Mama and the memory of Amma
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'You too will marry a boy I choose' said Mrs Rupa Mehra firmly to her younger daughter.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060786523, Paperback)

Vikram Seth's novel is, at its core, a love story: Lata and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, are both trying to find -- through love or through exacting maternal appraisal -- a suitable boy for Lata to marry. Set in the early 1950s, in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, A Suitable Boy takes us into the richly imagined world of four large extended families and spins a compulsively readable tale of their lives and loves. A sweeping panoramic portrait of a complex, multiethnic society in flux, A Suitable Boy remains the story of ordinary people caught up in a web of love and ambition, humor and sadness, prejudice and reconciliation, the most delicate social etiquette and the most appalling violence.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:46 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Vikram Seth's novel is, at its core, a love story: Lata and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, are both trying to find - through love or through exacting maternal appraisal - a suitable boy for Lata to marry. Set in the early 1950s, in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, A Suitable Boy takes us into the richly imagined world of four large extended families and spins a tale of their lives and loves. A portrait of a complex, multiethnic society in flux, A Suitable Boy remains the story of ordinary people caught up in a web of love and ambition, humor and sadness, prejudice and reconciliation, the most delicate social etiquette and the most appalling violence.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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