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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
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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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Award Winning Project Helps In Hunting Illegal Fishing

Illegal fishing and overfishing deplete fish stocks worldwide,

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Fish are seen in a fish market near the canal of Port Said, Egypt, March 18, 2018.
Fish are seen in a fish market near the canal of Port Said, Egypt, March 18, 2018. VOA

Drones guided by artificial intelligence to catch boats netting fish where they shouldn’t were among the winners of a marine protection award on Friday and could soon be deployed to fight illegal fishing, organizers said.

The award-winning project aims to help authorities hunt down illegal fishing boats using drones fitted with cameras that can monitor large swaths of water autonomously.

Illegal fishing and overfishing deplete fish stocks worldwide, causing billions of dollars in losses a year and threatening the livelihoods of rural coastal communities, according to the United Nations.

The National Geographic Society awarded the project, co-developed by Morocco-based company ATLAN Space, and two other innovations $150,000 each to implement their plans as it marked World Oceans Day on Friday.

The aircraft can cover a range of up to 700 km (435 miles) and use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to drive them in search of fishing vessels, said ATLAN Space’s founder, Badr Idrissi.

“Once (the drone) detects something, it goes there and identifies what it’s seeing,” Idrissi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Idrissi said the technology, which is to be piloted in the Seychelles later this year, was more effective than traditional sea patrols and allowed coast guards to save money and time.

From satellites tracking trawlers on the high seas to computer algorithms identifying illegal behaviors, new technologies are increasingly coming to the aid of coast guards worldwide.

The head of a model fish is seen hanging in front a banner during a protest against overfishing outside the European Union Council in Brussels, May 13, 2013.
The head of a model fish is seen hanging in front a banner during a protest against overfishing outside the European Union Council in Brussels, May 13, 2013. VOA

AI allows the drones to check a boat’s identification number, establish whether it is fishing inside a protected area or without permit, verify whether it is known to authorities and count people on board, Idrissi said.

If something appears to be wrong, it can alert authorities.

Other winners were Marine Conservation Cambodia, which uses underwater concrete blocks to impede the use of bottom-dragged nets, and U.S.-based Pelagic Data Systems, which plans to combat illegal fishing in Thailand with tracking technologies.

“The innovations from the three winning teams have the potential to greatly increase sustainable fishing in coastal systems,” National Geographic Society’s chief scientist Jonathan Baillie said in a statement.

Much of the world’s fish stocks are overfished or fully exploited, according the U.N. food agency, and fish consumption rose above 20 kilograms per person in 2016 for the first time.

Fish swim in the Mediterranean sea on the south coast of the Balearic island of Mallorca, Spain.
Fish swim in the Mediterranean sea on the south coast of the Balearic island of Mallorca, Spain. VOA

Alao read: Ancient tooth shows mesolithic ancestors fish plant eaters

Global marine catches have declined by 1.2 million tons a year since 1996, according to The Sea Around Us, a research initiative involving the University of British Columbia and the University of Western Australia. (VOA)