Fifteen years after writing that wrist-breaker A Suitable Boy (ASB), one of the longest novels in English language, Vikram Seth is all charged up about the recently announced sequel — A Suitable Girl. He has reportedly taken an advance amount of Rs 13-14 crores from Penguin UK, the highest ever for an Indian fiction writer.
In an chat with HT City, Seth said he is excited about the idea of a boy looking for a girl this time, rather than the opposite in ASB. The boy, in quest of a life partner, will be the grandson of the memorable Lata Mehra, that fussy heroine who had taken a whopping 1,488 pages and 591,552 words to find a suitable boy for herself.
Were ASB fans bugging Vikram for a sequel? “This is something I myself wanted to do,” he said, “but it’s taken me 17 years to discover this.” Since Seth’s own mother Leila Seth had inspired Lata’s character, could he himself be the inspiration of the sequel’s bride-seeking boy? “He’s still a foetus,” Seth says, “Give him a break.”
However, Seth warns fans that in the sequel, quite a few characters will die, including the dog Cuddles. When we ask if Lata might be widowed, Seth simply says, “That’s an interesting thought”. Will the setting again be that fictional North Indian town of Brahmpur? “Yes, Brahmpur, and also Delhi, and some other places in India,” Seth shares, “maybe even a bit of abroad.”
While Seth himself is in UK, his family in Noida is happy. “Both my parents are pleased,” says the author. “Come to think of it, I’d better ask both of them whether Lata’s husband should be alive or not.”
But is he sure he’ll… err, find…. a suitable girl by 2013, as committed to the publishers? “No,” Seth hushed, “but don’t tell them.”