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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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Smartphones Take Away Books From People Of Taiwan

Excluding those who read comic books, magazines or digital books, about 40.8 per cent of those surveyed said they read no print book in 2018, according to the survey on people's reading behaviour by the United Daily News's Vision Project.

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10.7 per cent said they had no such book-reading habit, further analysis by the survey found. Pixabay

More than one-fifth of people in Taiwan did not read a single book last year as smartphones, tablets and computers take up most people’s time, according to a survey.

Excluding those who read comic books, magazines or digital books, about 40.8 per cent of those surveyed said they read no print book in 2018, according to the survey on people’s reading behaviour by the United Daily News’s Vision Project.

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About 20.6 per cent of respondents who read no books last year said they simply didn’t like reading and 10.7 per cent said they had no such book-reading habit, further analysis by the survey found. Pixabay

According to the research, 1,556 respondents were surveyed from December 28, 2018 to January 3, 2019, Xinhua news agency reported.

Of those respondents who read no print books last year, about one-third of them said the last time they read a print book was one to three years ago. Another 20 per cent said their last book reading occurred more than 10 years ago.

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40 per cent said they had no time for reading or that reading took up too much time, it said. Pixabay

About 20.6 per cent of respondents who read no books last year said they simply didn’t like reading and 10.7 per cent said they had no such book-reading habit, further analysis by the survey found.

And 40 per cent said they had no time for reading or that reading took up too much time, it said.

Also Read: Can Social Media Control “Objectionable Content” And “Political Bias” From Its Platform?

Among those who read print books, about one third spent one to three hours a week reading and 14 per cent spent three to five hours a week reading, 12 per cent spent more than nine hours a week reading, according to the survey. (IANS)