This is the first time I’ve done this particular list. I don’t often carefully follow up with series’ or books I’m really looking forward to reading. Books are expensive and when they’re just released they tend to be a little more so (or at least in my country), especially when they’re out in hardcover first. So I find it’s easier to forget about them till it comes to a time when I can actually practically afford to buy the thing. But some books just stay in your head.
Lately, this one’s been in my head a lot, because a friend of mine just finished reading Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy and we’ve been constantly discussing it ever since. It’s Seth’s 1400+ page magnum opus about a cluster of families and their variable issues – some small, some big – in the political and religious tumult of post-independence India. The much-anticipated sequel, A Suitable Girl, has been talked of for the past couple months (maybe further back) but who knows when we’re actually going to see it in print. I know a lot of people here are quite excited, I definitely am – though it’ll probably take me two weeks to finish it.
Author: Vikram Seth
Expected Publication: 10th Jan, 2019 (but who the hell actually knows)
As per available news, A Suitable Girl is what Seth called a “jump sequel” set in the modern times, as opposed to A Suitable Boy which was published in ’93 and set in the 1950s. There’s not been much else about it really; it was supposed to be published several years ago (maybe around 2013) but Seth met with writer’s block and then had some personal issues as well as contractual issues (with Penguin). Apparently A Suitable Girl is supposed to deal with Lata Mehra’s (a major character in A Suitable Boy) search for a match for her grandson. It sounds like a romance-and-marriage novel but if you’ve read A Suitable Boy you’ll know that it deals with really everything under the sun, from government, politics and voting to families on various points in the economic strata and marriage deals, from religious strife and friendship to grief and young love, from internal family politics to…well I could go on forever. It really is an epic novel in that sense.
I think my hopes are definitely high for A Suitable Girl, definitely I can’t fault Seth’s writing or his immaculate way of capturing the voices of several generations in one go. But since this is a more modern sequel, I definitely hope that marginalised characters (women, the poor, those from the so-called ‘lower’ castes, etc) will be able to find some more agency and that will be spotlighted. India as a country today is a multitude of contradictions, and it’s definitely going to be a challenge to capture that, but we’ve come a long way from the 1950s for sure.