Indian poet, novelist, and travel writer Vikram Seth was born in Calcutta [now Kolkata], India, on June 20, 1952. He is renowned for his verse novel The Golden Gate (1986) and his epic novel A Suitable Boy (1993). Vikram Seth, the son of a judge and a businessman, was brought up in both India and London. Prem Nath Seth was his father, and his mother, Leila Seth, was a trained lawyer. His mother served as the first female judge of the Delhi High Court and the first-ever woman to hold the position of Chief Justice of a state High Court in India. Prem Nath Seth worked as an executive for Bata Shoes. Vikram Seth graduated from Corpus Christi College in Oxford after attending prestigious Indian schools. In 1978, he graduated with a master’s in economics from Stanford University in the United States. He then went on to Nanjing University in China to further his education. He made his way back to India in 1987 and settled in New Delhi with his family. Talking about Vikram Seth’s work, here is the list of notable masterpieces written by him:-
Best Novels written By Vikram Seth
- From Heaven Lake (1983)- Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet
From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet by Vikram Seth is a unique travelogue. By avoiding the Lonely Planet guides and common travel routes, Seth is able to paint a picture of China, Tibet, and Nepal from the viewpoint of a starving (quite literally) student traveller.
The summer of 1981 is when From Heaven Lake is set. Seth was attending Nanjing University at the time as an exchange student from Stanford. Since he hadn’t seen his family or his native Delhi in a while, he made the decision to return home for the summer. Seth’s journeys are chronicled in From Heaven Lake, along with the fascinating characters he meets.
The 1983 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award winner is praised by critics for its accurate and unvarnished portrayal of Asia and Eastern culture. Seth, an Indian author, biographer, and poet, was the inspiration for From Heaven Lake while conducting fieldwork in China for his doctoral studies at Stanford. Seth is most recognized for adding a lot of barely veiled biographical facts in his books and short stories.
- The Golden Gate (1986)
Vikram Seth’s tale in rhyme, The Golden Gate, one of the most well-liked books of 1986, established him as a well-known author in both India and the United States. In this novel, there are various characters who occasionally discuss, argue for, or against homosexuality, Christianity, civil disobedience, feminism, and tolerance; however, the narrative occasionally criticizes the news media and art criticism for unfairly treating their subjects. This is done by using examples of danger or anti-intellectualism. Both the speech and the story are against nuclear weapons, yet the story stresses the sensory wonders of the protagonists’ experiences. After putting a personal advertisement in the newspaper, John Brown, a wealthy yuppie living in 1980s San Francisco, encounters Liz and develops feelings for her. John interacts with a variety of people as a result of this engagement, each of whom has their own morals and views on “self-actualization.” John, however, finds his road of self-discovery has only just begun as Liz starts to fall in love with John’s best buddy.
- A Suitable Boy (1993)
Vikram Seth wrote the book A Suitable Boy, which was released in 1993. The English-language book is one of the lengthiest novels ever published in a single volume, with 1,349 pages (1,488 pages in paperback).
The events of A Suitable Boy take place in a newly independent, post-partition India. The focus of the novel, which spans 18 months and covers four households, is Mrs Rupa Mehra’s attempts to set up the marriage of her younger daughter, Lata, to a “decent boy.” Lata, a 19-year-old university student, rejects the influence of her opinionated brother Arun or her controlling mother. Her tale centres around the decision she must make between Kabir, Haresh, and Amit, her potential suitors. It starts in the made-up Ganges-coastal town of Brahmpur. The burgeoning stories are set against a vibrant backdrop of Patna, Brahmpur, Calcutta, Delhi, Lucknow, and other Indian cities. In the period leading up to the first post-Independence national election in 1952, the novel alternately offers satirical and sincere examinations of national political issues, including the Hindu-Muslim conflict, the status of lower caste peoples like the jatav, land reforms, and the abolition of the feudal princes and landlords, academic affairs, the abolition of the Zamindari system, family relations, and a variety of other issues important to the characters. There are 19 sections in the book, each of which primarily focuses on a distinct plotline. On the page, each component is detailed in rhyming couplet style.
- An Equal Music (1999)
Vikram Seth has crafted a profoundly touching tale about the threads of passion that run through each of our lives by masterfully fusing the themes of loss, longing, and the impact of music. In the story, a professional violinist named Michael falls in love again with Julia, a pianist he first met in Vienna when he was a college student. After ten years, they cross paths again and have a discreet relationship even though she is married and has a child. This relationship and the awareness that Julia is losing her hearing have an impact on their artistic careers. The pair’s rendition of Beethoven’s Piano Trio Opus 1 No. 3, which they initially performed in their college days, often appears throughout the story.
- Two Lives (2005)
Two Lives tells the tale of a century and a cross-ethnic love affair. As the title suggests, it is the tale of two exceptional lives—those of his German Jewish great aunt Hennerle Gerda Caro and his great uncle Shanti Behari Seth.
Poetry by Vikram Seth
His poetry is renowned for its rhythm, rhyme system, and clever wordplay. He conjures vivid pictures with restrained language and smart phrasing, and there is usually a brilliant message that is obvious toward the conclusion. Here are some of his most renowned poetries that you might like.
- Mappings (1980)
- The Tale Of Melon City (1981)
- The Humble Administrator’s Garden (1985)
- All You Who Sleep Tonight (1990)
- Beastly Tales (1991)
- Three Chinese Poets (1992)
- The Frog and the Nightingale (1994)
- Summer Requiem: A Book of Poems (2015)
- A Doctor’s Journal Entry for August 6, 1945
- Elephant and the Tragopan
- Round and Round
- At Evening
- Prandial Plaint
Vikram Seth’s first collection of poems, the Mappings, was released in 1980; nevertheless, it wasn’t until the publication of his comic travelogue From Heaven Lake (1983), which covered his tour by hitchhiking from Nanking to New Delhi through Tibet, that he began to receive widespread praise.
The Three Chinese Poets were contemporaneous and are regarded by many modern scholars as some of the best Chinese poets, which is another gem of Vikram Seth’s writing.
His collection of poetry, “Beastly Tales,” contains the piece “The Frog and The Nightingale.” The poem’s main issue is the results of being motivated by flattery. The frog in this poem seems to be using a nightingale for his own financial and fame gain. This poem explains how a frog takes advantage of a nightingale to make some money. It demonstrates how the nightingale’s demise is brought on by the frog’s poor instruction. A frog once made a croaking noise in the Bingle Bog forest. Although other animals loathed his voice, they were all compelled to listen to his voice.
Further, talking about his poem Elephant and Tragopan, the focus of this poem is the environment (concerned with protecting the environment). The elephant is better than a man in this social satire. It is aware of the damage that man can inflict on the environment and how it harms his own health.
Vikram Seth has written a Musical named Arion and the Dolphin in 1994.
Vikram Seth also used a controlled poetry style in his 1990 collection All You Who Sleep Tonight.
Vikram Seth is a worldwide author who refuses to confine his characters in one place, breaking down national barriers. He has authored novels with American, English, and Indian settings, as well as a travelogue about China. Numerous significant national and international honours have been bestowed upon Vikram Seth. He won the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, Sahitya Academy Award, Crossword Book Award, and the WH Smith Literary Award. Along with it, Vikram Seth also was made an Order of the British Empire in 2001 and also being honoured with the fourth-highest civilian award in India, the “Padma Shri.” In 2007 English National Opera also hired Vikram to create a libretto. He was appointed as the commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2001 and was named one of The Greatest Global Living Legends In India in 2013. Therefore, every book lover out there must read his original story in verse. Vikram Seth uses sentence structure that is appealing to both adults and children. “Two Lives,” a piece by Vikram that was recently published, is based on the union of his great uncle and aunt.