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Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Suitable Boy

Normally I wouldn't just post an entire post about a book, especially one that does not strictly speaking move my project forward, but I am super excited about this book. It is my most recent accusation, one that I acquired thinking I might get to it at some point when I had time in the indeterminate future, perhaps even after my field study, to continue my study of Indian literature. However when I got it, it was so physically massive I had to check it out. Basically it is the story of a Mother and a daughter in the pursuit of a suitable boy (go figure) for her to marry. It is set in India in the 1950s in the northernish part of India. So far it reads kind of like an Pride and Prejudice except in India and in the 1950s, not a long time ago England. I think it is supposed to be an epic story of the interactions between four families.

A Suitable Boy takes an intimate look at Indian culture, religion, and politics. Sometimes it is serious, sometimes it is satirical. Again drawing the comparison to Pride and Prejudice, part of the reason I am so excited to read this novel is the close perspective of something like a novel of manners. Not that A Suitable Boy is necessarily a novel of manners. I believe that it incorporates many aspects of Indian storytelling. It is divided into sections and chapters, but they do not always follow the same people. Often a new character or subplot is introduced and then abandoned only to be incorporated much later in the story.

In the future, I hope to come back to this novel to examine it with regards to Indian epics such as The Adventures of Amir Hamza, The Ramayan, and the Mahabharat to look for similar literary elements and methods. I will know better when I finish it, but I have a theory that A Suitable Boy may in many ways be a kind of Indian Epic.

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