Wednesday, November 30, 2005

vikram seth interview on kqed forum

nov 30th

did you guys listen to the interview with vikram seth on forum? he speaks well and although i am not sure, as i have mentioned before, that his later works have been any good, he sounded like a decent person.

i thought 'golden gate' was an absolute masterpiece. i found 'suitable boy' extremely tedious. i wasted an entire christmas holiday reading it and then i wondered why i had bothered. the characters were uninteresting, even the dusky, adulterous bengali woman (was it kakoli?), although the shoe guy was not bad. the cricket player, the decadent nawabi types, the courtesan: all were bizarre characters.

now that i have heard seth talking about his uncle santi and aunt henny, they seem like strange characters as well. henny seems to have been a racist (although she was a jew whose family were put to death by racist nazis): she never once went to india even though she was married to shanti for some fifty years.

here's what someone else said about seth:

>I was browsing Seth's latest book "Two Lives" at
>Borders tonight.  It is about his uncle Shanti and
>his (Shanti's)  German wife Henny, and part Seth's
>personal memoir.  My initial impressions from
>the rapid browsing are - Shanti & Henny are boring
>people.  Seth imagines that he is purveying some
>deeper statement about human nature in the
>context of intercultural relationships, the loneliness
>that comes with being away from India etc.  Seth's
>writing is clear; but it is not inspired as far as I
>could tell.  Why he thinks his memoir would be
>interesting to people is a mystery he sheds no
>light on.


Anonymous said...

I read recently in some newspaper
supplement here that Seth wasnt
going to write another book (else
was wondering what to write) when
his mother suggested he document
the life of his uncle and aunt. That's why he wrote it. And also
because having grown up in an
extended family he values all his
family connections and wanted to
document this asap.

It was meant to be a family memoir.

Writers write for various
reasons. Not necessarily in order
to make an impact or impression.

Savitha R.

Kalyani said...


Off topic (may be)."she never once went to india even though she was married to shanti for some fifty years",makes me write the following.

One of my very d..i..s..tant relatives married a German woman,and was summarily
branded 'persona non grata' by the entire family,presided over by the mother(quite a huge family).None of them ever corresponded with him even.
I caught my first and last glimpse of him,when he had "traipsed" into our
house to have 'vethakozhambu and rice'(a South Indian delicacy)made and served by my grandmother.

A l..o..n..g time after that,I heard somebody narrate, that his wife had come to Kashi with an urn containing his ashes to fulfill his last wishes.

I still have not got over my respect and admiration for that unseen woman...all the more poignant when I do see a lot of 'bereaved'(sic),watching tv serials or playing cards and 'managing' to shed tears too when needed!

Anonymous said...

A Tamil delicacy, Kalyani, not a South Indian delicacy. You Tamils need to stop using 'South Indian' when you mean 'Tamil'.

Kalyani said...


Well, ok....I stand corrcted!But I suppose Andhra,Kerala and Karnataka too would have similar cousins(dishes)...hence used the word south indian.