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A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth

Second paragraph of third chapter:
'I see you're enjoying yourself,' said Maan to her in English.
Well, this was heartily recommended to me and you were right. It's a great massive epic of India immediately post-independence, told from the point of view of several upper-middle-class families in the fictional capital of a fictional Indian state, though with plenty of real places (and even real people: Nehru makes an appearance at one point). It's full of politics - religious, factional, class, sexual and electoral (I always like a book with a good election campaign; there are not that many of them). British overlordship in much of India lasted less than a century, from 1858 to 1947, and the picture Seth paints is of a society that has thrown off the more recent rulers and is negotiating its own relationship with older but still resident powers. It's a story told with a warm humour that successfully dials down to grimmer tones for moments of tragedy. A really good book from which I think I learned a lot.

This was both the top non-genre fiction book recommended by you guys, and also the top unread book by a non-white author on my shelves. Next on those lists respectively are Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro, and HWJN by Ibraheem Abbas.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
May. 15th, 2017 07:12 pm (UTC)
A Suitable Boy
I read and loved it in the mid-1990s, later persuading my other half to read it while we backpacked through India over several weeks 8 or 9 yrs ago. She finished it in the middle of the night in Goa, and so furious at Lara's choice of husband she started hitting me over the head with it; "Why you make me read this stupid 1300 page book!?" That's a heavy tome with which to be smote in the dead of night.
trepkos
May. 16th, 2017 07:44 am (UTC)
It's frustrating to have read so many books - including this one - and have no memory of the contents of most of them.
nwhyte
May. 16th, 2017 11:45 am (UTC)
That's why I write them up here - some of the classics (and many of the others) are surprisingly forgettable!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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