Book 98 of 100

A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

I’ve been scouring every English language book shop from Tokyo to Saigon for the two books that I still need to finish my top 100.  I struck gold in Phnom Penh.


As you can see, this book is so fat that it actually makes me look thin in this photo.  It took me the rest of Cambodia and most of Laos to finish it.  For a book approaching 1,500 pages, it did hold my interest (the similarly long War and Peace took me about four months to finish and that was an effort) and the huge cast of characters was well-drawn and I could remember who everyone was without constantly needing to flip back to earlier chapters (a major difficulty with W&P).

I like the fact that the author does not feel the need to explain every time he uses a word or a reference that will not be familiar to an Indian reader.  I hate it when there is too much explanation – give your readers some credit in thinking they’ll figure most things out.  Because of the 1,500 pages and the last cast of characters, reading this did feel a bit like watching Eastenders instead of reading a novel – there’s no strong narrative that’s heading towards a conclusion, it’s just a bunch of stuff that keeps happening to people with no overall direction.  The author does try to bookend the whole thing with two weddings, but that feels a bit flimsy.

Overall though, I enjoyed this and it made me excited about visiting India next month.

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