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“A Suitable Girl”: Most Awaited Novel By Vikram Seth, Finally Published

Seth suffered from writer's block after his break-up

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"A Suitable Girl": Most Awaited Novel By Vikram Seth, Finally Published, flickr

Hardly has any novel been awaited with as much curiosity and anticipation in recent times as Vikram Seth’s sequel to the monumental “A Suitable Boy” (1993). Five years on, since he was first expected to deliver the manuscript, the novel is still to see the light of the day. But what seems like a saga of missed deadlines can very well — far from our eyes — be a masterpiece in the making.

“The more I talk of her, the more shy she becomes,” Seth had told this correspondent in 2015 about “A Suitable Girl”, the novel-in-waiting.

Seth, as his literary agent David Godwin puts it, has been known to take his time with his books. The prolonged delay, however, was not acceptable to Hamish Hamilton (an imprint of Penguin Random House) and he was asked to return an advance payment of $1.7 million when the deal was called off. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, an imprint of the British publisher Orion, then acquired the novel — and it was scheduled to release in 2016.

But a flying bird — a friend and confidant of the writer — says that he is now giving the “final touch” to the novel and that one can expect “the big announcement” soon.

Seth released a collection of poems titled “Summer Requiem” in the meanwhile. In the collection, he traces the immutable shiftings of the seasons, the relentless rhythms of a great world that both “gifts and harms”. Composed as they were while he was (which he still is) writing the sequel, several poems in the offering open doors to his mind, or perhaps they may be preludes to the larger narrative that he is weaving.

“I have so carefully mapped/the corners of my mind/that I am forever waking/in a lost country,” he writes in the opening poem. Interestingly, Seth’s companion to “A Suitable Boy” will be a jump sequel — the characters have travelled from the 1950s and it will be very much a novel set in somewhat the present times.

novels By Vikram Seth
novels By Vikram Seth, flickr

In its title poem, he mourns that the “liberated generation lives a restrained youth,” and then adds: “I must forsake attachment”. On another occasion in the book, readers find him lamenting over “the peaceful love” that the narrator has “never found”. In another short poem “Late Light” he writes: “Outside the great world’s gifts and harms/ There must be somewhere I can go/To rest within a lover’s arm/At ease with the impending snow”.

Reportedly, Seth suffered from writer’s block after his break-up with French violinist Phillippe Honor but that was a long time ago and was reflected in “An Equal Music”. He has moved on or has he not?

Nonetheless, it has been about five years since “A Suitable Girl” was first expected to hit the stands but the wait is surely worth it. As writer-politician Shashi Tharoor says about his good friend’s technique — that “Vikram Seth draws an entire roadmap of his novel, planning every minute element in great detail” — the sequel, thanks to all the anticipation and the pressure on the writer, may actually be a masterpiece in the making, as sublime as its counterpart and yet set in the time of its readers.

Vikram Seth is a recipient of the Padma Shri, Sahitya Akademi Award, and among several other prestigious honours, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman. He has been widely translated and is among leading novelists on the global stage. He has published three novels — “The Golden Gate” (1986), “A Suitable Boy” (1993) and “An Equal Music” (1999) — along with several collections of poetry such as “Mappings” and “All You Who Sleep Tonight”.

Also read: Here is all the reason for Bookworms to look ahead for the upcoming year: A List of the Best Stories and Novels in 2017!

Seth — an openly gay man — is also one of the prominent faces of the campaign against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality. (IANS)

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Proud Of Spreading Chills And Thrills Among Children: ‘Goosebumps’ Author R.L. Stine

I'm very proud of the millions of kids I have scared over the years, and proud that millions of kids were encouraged to read because of my books.

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Scared. Image source: Huffingtonpost.com

R.L. Stine never imagined he’d carve out a successful future for himself by writing a horror book series, which he started by accident. The “Goosebumps” creator says he is proud of spreading chills and thrills among children, and helping youngsters develop a reading habit.

“I’m very proud of the millions of kids I have scared over the years, and proud that millions of kids were encouraged to read because of my books,” Stine told IANS in an email interview.

Born as Robert Lawrence Stine, he started writing when he was 9 and has been penning down his creative thoughts since then. Back in the early 1990s, he resisted the idea of writing “Goosebumps”, which is now one of the best-selling children’s series of all-time, because he already had “Fear Street”, a horror book series for adults, to his credit.

Stine only agreed to go for it with the right name and zeroed in on “Goosebumps”, in which he merged the world of horror with humour. The first edition of “Goosebumps”, which brings supernatural beings to life to haunt children, came out in 1992.

“I never dreamed that these books would be so popular. And I never imagined the ‘Goosebumps’ series would last 26 years. What I’ve learned is that kids really like to be scared! (As long as there is a happy ending),” said Stine, who is also referred to as Stephen King of Children’s Literature.

Children avoid eye contact when anxious
“I’m very proud of the millions of kids I have scared over the years, and proud that millions of kids were encouraged to read because of my books,”-R.L Stine

It has been a long road for the franchise. Since 1992, the “Goosebumps” franchise has expanded its universe. The adventurous world came to life on the big screen with two feature films — “Goosebumps”, which was aired in India on &flix, and “Goosebumps 2”, which will premiere on the channel later this year.

Apart from films, “Goosebumps” series were adapted into a television series, six video games and six comic books.

What do you think makes the franchise timeless?

“I don’t know if they are timeless or not. But I do know that our fears never change. Fear of the dark… Fear of strange places… Fear of being pursued by someone or something… Those fears seem to be timeless,” said the 75-year-old.

R.L. Stine Author of kid’s favorite ‘Goosebumps’ (IANS)

Talking about his influences, Stine said: “I’m still influenced by the comic books I read as a kid. By authors such as Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Rod Serling. Your heroes and influences stay with you.”

He asserted that he works really hard at “keeping up with kids and what interests them”.

“All of my books start with real-world settings and events — and then the plot goes crazy,” said the author, adding that “some of my early readers are 30 or 35 years old. To them, I am nostalgia! That took some getting used to”.

In the “Goosebumps” film franchise, actor Jack Black essays role of Stine. But what about a film on your life?

Also Read: Our Children Might Fall into the Black Hole of Ecological Disaster

He was quick to dismiss the idea by saying, “My life story would be someone sitting in a room and typing every day, year after year. Who would want to see a movie like that?”

Back to the book franchise, Stine, who is also a television producer, editor and screenwriter, feels there are still many untold stories from the “Goosebumps” universe.

“I just signed on for six more ‘Goosebumps’ books. That should keep me busy. I’m also writing a series of graphic novels for kids. Fun.” (IANS)