| 4.1/5 |
A Suitable Girl
| Gangetic Plain, 1951–52|
Phoenix House (UK)
Little, Brown (Canada)
Fiction, Novel, Romance novel
Vikram Seth books, India books, Novels
A Suitable Boy is a novel by Vikram Seth, published in 1993. At 1,349 pages (1,488 pages softcover) and 591,552 words, the book is one of the longest novels ever published in a single volume in the English language. A sequel, to be called A Suitable Girl, is due for publication in 2017.
A Suitable Boy Wikipedia
A Suitable Boy is set in a newly post-independence, post-partition India. The novel follows the story of four families over a period of 18 months, and centres on Mrs. Rupa Mehra's efforts to arrange the marriage of her younger daughter, Lata, to a "suitable boy". Lata is a 19-year-old university student who refuses to be influenced by her domineering mother or opinionated brother, Arun. Her story revolves around the choice she is forced to make between her suitors Kabir, Haresh, and Amit.
It begins in the fictional town of Brahmpur, located on the Ganges between Banares and Patna. Brahmpur, along with Calcutta, Delhi, Kanpur and other Indian cities, forms a colourful backdrop for the emerging stories.
The 1349-page novel alternately offers satirical and earnest examinations of national political issues in the period leading up to the first post-Independence national election of 1952, including Hindu–Muslim strife, the status of lower caste peoples such as the jatav, land reforms and the eclipse of the feudal princes and landlords, academic affairs, abolition of the Zamindari system, family relations and a range of further issues of importance to the characters.
The novel is divided into 19 parts with, generally, each part focusing on a different subplot. Each part is described in rhyming couplet form on the contents page.
The four main families in the novel are:The Mehras
Mrs. Rupa Mehra, a mother searching for a suitable boy for her youngest daughter.
Arun, Mrs. Mehra's oldest son, married to Meenakshi Chatterji
Savita, married to Pran Kapoor
Lata, whose arranged marriage forms the basis of the main plot.
The Kapoors, Mr. Mahesh Kapoor, Mrs. Mahesh Kapoor and their three children Veena, Pran (married to Savita Mehra) and Maan.
The Khans, The Nawab Sahib of Baitar and his three children Zainab, Imtiaz and Firoz.
The Chatterjis, Mr. Justice Chatterji and Mrs. Chatterji and their children Amit, Meenakshi (married to Arun Mehra), Dipankar, Kakoli and Tapan
Kabir Durrani, a love interest of Lata, and a central hub of one of the main themes of the novel. His father is a respected, charmingly bumbling, maths teacher at the university that both Kabir and Lata attend. Kabir is a highly successful player on the university cricket team. Lata and Kabir have a brief, intense courtship; the ramifications of which echo through the rest of the novel.
Haresh Khanna, an enterprising and determined shoe-businessman, who is also a love interest of the hero].
Amit Chatterji, Justice Chatterji's eldest son and internationally acclaimed poet and author. Again, a prominent love interest of Lata.
Four family trees are provided in the beginning of the novel to help readers keep track of the complicated interwoven family networks.
Some other prominent characters, not mentioned above, include:Nehru
Malati, best friend of Lata
Aparna, daughter of Meenakshi and Arun
Kedarnath Tandon, married to Veena (née Kapoor)
Bhashkar Tandon, son of Veena and Kedarnath
Hashim Durrani, Kabir's brother
Dr Durrani, mathematician
Saeeda Bai, courtesan and musician
Tasneem, sister of Saeeda Bai
Bibbo, servant at Saeeda Bai's hagu cleaner
Rasheed, student at Brahmpur University, Tasneem's Arabic teacher
Ishaq, sarangi player
S S Sharma, Chief Minister
Agarwal, home minister
Priya, his daughter
Simran, a Sikh woman and former love interest of Haresh Khanna
Kalpana Gaur, friend of the Mehra family
Billy Irani, friend of Arun Mehra, later has an affair with Meenakshi
Shireen, his fiancee
Raja of Marh
Rajkumar of Marh, his son
Professor Mishra, an English professor
Dr Ila Chattopadhay, an English professor
Hans, an Austrian diplomat
Begum Abida Khan, politician
The Guppi, inhabitant of Salimpur
Netaji, Rasheed's uncle
Makhijani, indulgent poet
Waris, servant at the Baitar Fort and competes with Mahesh Kapoor in the General Election
The Munshi, in charge of the Baitar Fort
Uma Kapoor, daughter of Savita and Pran
Professor Nowrojee, who runs the university literary club attended by Kabir and Lata.
Sunil Patwardhan, mathematician at Brahmpur University
Parvati, Mrs Rupa Mehra's stepmother
The Praha Shoe Company of the novel is modeled on Bata Shoes.
Pul mela is based on Kumbh Festival, which takes place at Sangam, Allahabad.
McGirk, Tim (27 March 1993). "Playing happy families in Brahmpur: Tim McGirk on the exhausting charms of Vikram Seth's frothy comedy manners, marriages and mynah birds: A suitable boy". The Independent.
Tejpal, Tarun J. (March 15, 1993). "Epic dimensions". India Today.