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Dick Davis in the Listener , for example, found the collection to be "modest, ordered, well-mannered and well-planned, with a trace of deprecatory self-pity. Seth's widest acclaim as a technically solid poet came with The Golden Gate , his verse novel, which many critics hailed as a tour de force. Containing nearly six hundred sonnets of iambic tetrameter, Seth's long narrative poem is set in present-day San Francisco and concerns the lives of young, urban professionals, or "yuppies.

He has lunch with his old girlfriend, Janet Hayakawa—a sculptor and a drummer in a punk-rock band called Liquid Sheep—after which Janet, unbeknownst to John, submits an advertisement on John's behalf to a lonely hearts column. The action is a catalyst for the presentation of The Golden Gate 's other characters: Liz Dorati, an attractive lawyer; Phil Weiss, a divorced single parent, philosopher, and peace demonstrator; and Ed, an advertising executive.

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In addition to incorporating timely concerns within the novel—such as a long scene at an antinuclear demonstration and a dialogue between two homosexual men on sex and celibacy—Seth places his characters in typically modern situations, such as singles bars and wine-making parties.

Seth "knows these people inside out," noted Kennedy, and he consequently "conducts us on a psychological safari through five interesting souls.

Deemed "one of the curiosities of the season" by John Gross in the New York Times, The Golden Gate struck many critics as unusual in its portrayal of modern yuppies conveyed through narrative verse, a form that is a "throwback to our literary past," Raymond Mungo pointed out in the New York Times Book Review. Seth once told CA interviewer Jean W.


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Ross that he patterned the style of The Golden Gate after Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin's Eugene Onegin , a work exhibiting intricately rhymed and metered sonnets. Expecting little, Seth found in reading Eugene Onegin that "I was reading it as I would read a novel.

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That was something that intrigued me, because the idea of a novel in verse had at first struck me as some curious hybrid, something that would not work. Here was something that did work, and that not only worked, but moved me and amused me and made me want to write something in a similar form set in my time and in a place that I knew. It took Seth years to complete and publish his next novel, A Suitable Boy , described by Michele Field of Publishers Weekly as "the longest single-volume work of English fiction since Samuel Richardson 's Clarissa was published in A Suitable Boy is the story of the arranged marriage of Lata Mehra, an upper-class Indian woman rebelling against the traditional customs imposed upon her by her mother and Indian society at large.

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The widow Mehra, Lata's mother, is determined to find her daughter a husband of appropriate caste, color, religion, and financial stability—a "suitable boy. The plot centers on four families—the Mehras, Kapoors, Chatterjis, and Khans—yet Seth reaches beyond the limits of their experiences: "He chose to tell the whole story, producing for all time the whole world of Lata Mehra, with all the intermingled levels of North Indian culture," Schuyler Ingle remarked in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. While the action in A Suitable Boy takes place in the fictional northern city of Brahmpur in the s, not long after India's independence from England, Seth describes in great detail the political, religious, and cultural shifts gripping postcolonial India in a multitude of subplots.

Reviews of the content of A Suitable Boy were mixed. New Republic reviewer Richard Jenkyns acknowledged the tendency of long books to "be spoken of, whether for praise or blame, in superlatives," which may seem to leave only one conclusion: "Since A Suitable Boy is not obviously a bad book, it must be a marvel.

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What we do not expect, with something so massive, is to speak in neutral, colorless terms: pleasant, mostly unpretentious, some pale charm, some gentle humor, readable but a bit flat and dull. But such, I think, is the judgment that we should return on this book. The resulting structural clarity is remarkable—you never don't know what's happening, why, where, and to whom…. It's a considerable technical feat.

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As critics debated the issue of the book's length, some found it a hindrance, and others deemed it appropriate, though unwieldy. According to Jill Rachlin of People , although the author intended A Suitable Boy to be the first novel of a set of five, his first draft was close to two thousand pages. What you can't do is hold the damn thing. But Seth's publishers aren't entirely crazy: there is something strangely appealing about A Suitable Boy. It is not immediately evident that its some 1, pages make it four times better than it would have been at Arion and the Dolphin , a children's book based on Seth's libretto for an opera, is a blend of prose and verse that retells an ancient Greek legend: the story of a young musician whose life is saved by a dolphin.


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An error has occurred. Please try again later. You are already subscribed to this email. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet Unpaged. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. Ages 7 and up. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault Unpaged.