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Happy Birthday, Vikram Seth !

books Updated: Jun 20, 2009 09:36 IST

Hindustan Times
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Vikram Seth is a famous Indian poet, novelist, travel writer, librettist, children's writer, biographer and memoirist.

Vikram Seth was born on June 20, 1952 at Kolkata. His father, Prem, was an employee of the Bata India Limited shoe company who migrated to post-Partition India from West Punjab in Pakistan. Vikram Seth's childhood was spent in the town of Batanagar near Calcutta, Patna, and London. His mother Leila Seth was the first woman judge of the Delhi High Court as well as the first woman to become Chief Justice of a state High Court. She was the Chief Justice of Shimla High Court.

Vikram Seth did his schooling from The Doon School in Dehradun. He took his undergraduate degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford University. He was enrolled in postgraduate economics courses at Stanford University and was also attached to Nanjing University for his intended doctoral dissertation on Chinese population planning.

His first novel, The Golden Gate: A Novel in Verse (1986), describes the experiences of a group of friends living in California. His acclaimed epic of Indian life, A Suitable Boy (1993), won the WH Smith Literary Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book). Set in India in the early 1950s, it is the story of a young girl, Lata, and her search for a husband. An Equal Music (1999), is the story of a violinist haunted by the memory of a former lover.

Vikram Seth is also the author of a travel book, From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet (1983), an account of a journey through Tibet, China and Nepal that won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, and a libretto, Arion and the Dolphin: A Libretto (1994), which was performed at the English National Opera in June 1994, with music by Alec Roth. His poetry includes Mappings (1980), The Humble Administrator's Garden (1985), winner of the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia), and All You Who Sleep Tonight: Poems (1990). His children's book, Beastly Tales from Here and There (1992), consists of ten stories about animals told in verse.

Vikram Seth's latest work is Two Lives (2005), a memoir of the marriage of his great uncle and aunt.

Reading Seth, one experiences the sense of an old-fashioned conception of the relationship between reader and writer; engaging the attention and interest of the "common reader" (as he defines it) becomes a programmatic element of both his poetry and his prose, and his books reveal a sophisticated yet unselfconscious return to realist narrative and formal poetic structures.

Here is wishing the prolific author, a happy birthday and many more books!