What a great start to the year this was – especially reading wise. The first book I finished was literally a brick and is probably going to be the longest book in 2020 I’ll read.:P I have been so happy to have finally picked this Indian Classic.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Vikram Seth’s novel is, at its core, a love story: the tale of Lata – and her mother’s – attempts to find her a suitable husband, through love or through exacting maternal appraisal. At the same time, it is the story of India, newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis as a sixth of the world’s population faces its first great general election and the chance to map its own destiny.
If you are ever curious about the culture of India with respect to its social and political agendas, or even just the whole arrange arrange concept and the pressure a young girl faces, the concept of religion and different classes. You need to pick this one up. Being born and brought up in India, I can vouch for it’s authenticity and the essence of India it manages to capture.
What makes this book special is that it is beyond just an incredible story to me. It gets personal. I am from an Indian family – Hindu and in love with a Muslim myself. And although India claims to be harmonious and secular with regards to the variety of religions. The political monsters play a dirty game of creating rifts between religions. And if you know anything about Indian History. There is always a bit of a tension when it comes to Hindu and Muslims. EVEN TODAY! and if that’s not enough we also have the dreaded caste system that people follow which is down right irrelevant in this day and age.
So, It wasn’t a surprise that I totally resonated with the main character Lata and the whole Hindu Muslim agenda in this book. I was literally heartbroken with who she ends up with. Even though fiction, it doesn’t fail to hit you with the hard reality of India and does not definitely cushion the blow.
The plot revolving around a mother looking for a suitable boy for her daughter, and the kind of emotional pressure put on her to select the guy that her family predominantly likes rather than the guy she really does. You will also witness the amount of filters the suitable guy has with regards to his caste, financial status, and religion. There are so many diverse characters in this book with each facing their own social problems. I don’t know which one to highlight.
Lata loves reading books and the literary references in this book are gold. She seems to be an intellectual, can maker her own decisions kind of girl although burdened with maintaining her families social status.
Even though this book is categorized as Historical Fiction and highlights the post Independence period in India. The sad reality of these themes still so relevant in Today’s India is extremely shameful. I wish I could say we lived through those dark ages and came out brighter. But the truth is too far away from my hopeful dreams.
Overall, This book is a must read if you want to get a taste for the culture of India. I also would totally recommend listening to this Comedy Music Video by Aadhar Malik kind of highlighting the same issue.
Published: May 1st 1993
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics