Book Review: A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

How does one review a masterpiece like Vikram Seth’s “A Suitable Boy”?

So unfamiliar this book stands. Bearing no comparison. Against all the settled notions and all the negative realities between Hindus and Muslims. So just. So elaborate. Throughout the course of discussion, be it politics, relations, love, or friendship, an immaculate description of all the characters. Doesn’t miss anything. Throwing light on almost all professions. This masterpiece worth being read at least once. The writer being a master of all trades and that too without a doubt.

Despite of all its long narration and vivid explanation, the book surely is wonderful and I have no compulsion in terming it as “Just Perfect”. After terming it just perfect I am left with nothing but to go into the nitty gritties. However, the title of the masterpiece fails appallingly in conveying the jewels contained therein. Vikram Seth manages to write so flawlessly even on the topic of religion. Irrespective of the long lived strife shared between Hindus and Muslims he successfully portrays that religion had nothing to do with any of the worldly affairs of both Hindus and Muslims as long as they loved and cherished each others friendship and remained tolerant. The book therefore is for all those people who do not bear any malice, bias or prejudice against anything or anyone be it Hinduism or Islam, love or law, poetry or even your own family. This book might also be termed as a “Journey to Salvation” (I think I might suggest Mr. Seth this as an alternate title). You name any character and the same achieves salvation towards the end of the book. What makes the readers fan of this book is that the writer has justly elucidated all the characters at length and one only wishes to live with the characters as long as one can.

A beautiful illustration of how the author portrays one of the characters is the following:

“She was quite pretty too in those days; indeed, perhaps she still was. But for some reason none of her boyfriends remained boyfriends for long. She had a very decided personality and fairly soon took to telling them what they should do with their lives and studies and work. She began to mother them or perhaps brother them (since she was something of a tomboy) – and this sooner or later took the edge off their romantic excitement. They even began to find her vivacity over-powering, and sooner or later edged away from her – with guilt on their side and pain on hers. This was a great pity, for Kalpana Gaur was a lively, affectionate, and intelligent woman, and deserved some recompense for the help and happiness she gave others”

― Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy

“Friendship beyond any bound” might be another Suitable title for the book as Vikram Seth presents us with an extraordinary friendship, standing the test of cruel time, between the Kapoors (Hindus) and the Nawabs (Muslims). “A Suitable Boy” indeed is not a bad title either as it does manage to attract an audience which could otherwise not have been enticed.

As far as the suitability is concerned the boy should not be actually suitable but for the woman and that too by all means. Or in other words let the race between your heart and mind be won by the mind in all cases. The book also encompasses the political scenarios of India generally and peculiarly of some places like Brahampur, etc…. picturing few thrilling speeches by the members of the two main families.

In the end, I can assuredly assert that everyone might not be able to find a suitable boy after reading this book but something is bound to be found in it for everyone, may be a turning point, a wake-up call, a fresh start or a peaceful end, who knows…..go read and find out for yourselves.

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Nazish Arshad Bhatti, is a Punjab University LL.B Graduate. She is currently in her second year of studies in M.A Political Science.

The views expressed by the authors in all the posts do not necessarily reflect those of Pakistan College of Law.
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