It took him 16 years but Vikram Seth couldn't resist the idea of writing a sequel to his famous novel A Suitable Boy.
Aptly titled A Suitable Girl, the book which is expected to hit the stands in 2013, will not return to post- independent India. Rather it would feature protagonist Lata as an octogenarian in the present day.
The 58-year-old writer says rather than revisiting the past, he wanted to document contemporary India "which has changed so much and yet so little" through Lata's eyes.
One of the longest novels to be published with 1488 pages, A Suitable Boy follows the lives of four families over a span of 18 months and Vikram, who has written books like The Golden Gate, Two Lives and An Equal Music, says though he had dropped certain hints of a sequel, he could not find enough inspiration to return to the original story.
The book closes with a couplet saying, "The actors take a bow, at least for now," indicating the possibility of it to be followed by a sequel soon.
"I did not plan A Suitable Boy to be a long book but because it did well publishers wanted me to write a sequel. But the inspiration to write it did not come me for a long time and since the inspiration did not come to me no amount of commercial pressure could force me to write," he said.
A Suitable Girl tells the story through an old Lata's eyes but many other characters from the original story may not return in the book.
"There is a certain life expectancy to people so many characters won't be there. Who will be there, who won't be there, I am myself yet to discover but Lata is certainly going to be there," said Vikram, who is currently researching on the book.
He indicated that the story might now revolve around Lata's family trying to find a suitable girl for her grandchildren.
"Another interesting aspect would be the relationship between Lata and her grandchildren," he said.
Seth said he wanted to structure the book in such a way that a person who has not read the earlier version may be able to comprehend it.
"The book should be very readable. People may be able to read either this book or that book without reading the other," he said.
'A Suitable Boy' Sequel Set in Contemporary India: Seth
Wasfia Jalali & Bedika/Jaipur
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