Vikram Seth

April 13, 2018 Philosophy

Vikram Seth Vikram Seth is a famous Indian poet, novelist, travel writer, librettist, children’s writer, biographer and memoirist. He was born on June 20, 1952 in Calcutta, now known as Kolkata. His father, Prem Seth, was an employee of the Bata India Limited shoe company. His mother was the first woman judge of the Delhi High Court, as well as the first woman to become Chief Justice of a state High Court, known as Shimla High Court. His childhood was spent in the town of Batanagar near Calcutta, Patna, and London.

He has a younger brother, Shantum, and a younger sister, Aradhana. Seth admits that some of the fictional characters in his novels are “drawn from real life,” in comparison to his parents and siblings. Although discreet at times, he is not secretive about his personal life. He admits that the “I” in many of his poems is in reference to himself. His poems are addressed to both male and female objects. “Some men like Jack and some like Jill…What is my status? Stray? Or Great? are quotes taken from the poem Dubious, which shows him being open about his sexuality. He attended The Doon School in Dehadrun, where he admits to his “terrible feeling of loneliness and isolation,” during his studies. He also attended Oxford University, where he took his undergraduate degree in philosophy, politics, and economics. He was enrolled at Stanford University, as well as Nanjing University for his intended doctoral dissertation on Chinese population planning. “The Golden Gate” (1986), was his first novel.

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He has written a travelogue “From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet” (1983). His works in poetry include All You Who Sleep Tonight (1990). He has also written a story book for children Beastly Tales from Here and There (1992). His acclaimed epic of Indian life, A Suitable Boy (1993), won the WH Smith Literary Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book). A Suitable Boy is the story of several Indian families-the Kapoors, Mehras, Chatterjis and Khans, whose paths intersect continually over a period of about a year.

It never strays far from the subject of love and marriage–indeed, the book both begins and ends with weddings. Set in India in the early 1950s , which has only recently gained its independence from the British. A young girl by the name of Lata Mehra is the second daughter in her family. Her widowed mother, Rupa Mehra, is determined to find a “suitable boy” for her daughter. The book opens at Savita, Lata’s elder sister, and Pran Kapoor’s wedding, where Lata decides that she does not want an arranged marriage like her sister.

As the year passes three suitors come into Lata’s life. Of the three, a handsome Muslim classmate and the self-made business man her mother wants for her. Lata is a rebellious kind of girl who is already in love with a Muslim boy. The novel shows a conflict between Hindus and Muslims in the fictional city of Brahmpur, where the story is primarily set. One of the main aims of the novel is to infuse the spirit of religious tolerance among the Hindus and Muslims. Family drama and Indian history unfold around her: Savita and Pran begin domestic life together and start their family.

Life changes for Maan, Pran’s brother, when he falls for a girl from an unsuitable family. The story also surrounds a fight that Lata’s brother has in Calcutta. The story delves into the normal and day to day routine life activities of India in 1951-52. Seth creates a compelling tale revolving around these four families and their love, hatred, sadness, daily chores, and lives in the times of a crisis. It shows a society that is a mix of different cultures, communities, and castes undergoing a change.

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