Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

An unsuitable delay

A long novel has a long gestation time but Vikram Seth's publisher has decided that too much time is enough.

The success of Vikram Seth's 1993 novel A Suitable Boy prompted feverish interest in its proposed sequel. Provisionally titled A Suitable Girl, the rights to the second instalment were acquired by the British publisher Hamish Hamilton in 2009, who advanced $1.7m to the author.

That figure represented a suitably large figure for what was likely to be a suitably large novel. A Suitable Boy was a hefty 1,349 pages, pushing it firmly into the realms of heavyweight fiction. There was no reason to doubt its sequel would be anything less than a doorstopper too.

Four years after Seth bagged his large advance, Hamish Hamilton's newly formed parent company - Penguin Random House - are not at all happy. With A Suitable Girl's manuscript nowhere to be seen, they've asked for their money back.

There are, however, mitigating circumstances for its non-arrival. Seth, who describes himself as both obsessive and lazy, took eight years to deliver A Suitable Boy and hasn't published any new fiction since 1999.

In truth, the reader might actually be the winner here. When it does arrive, A Suitable Girl will doubtless be, in sheer weight alone, another big read. Who has the time these days to wade through 1,400 pages? That's an awful lot of bedtimes.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Rolling out the structure for the set. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

Star Wars: Episode VII evidence in Abu Dhabi desert

After more than a week of speculation, The National has what are believed to be the first photos of a Star Wars shoot in the Abu Dhabi desert.

No words can describe this April 17, your captions will

Have a catchy caption for this picture. Share it with us and we might publish it and reward you.

 The year-long project aims to create a form of social autobiography — the story of Dubai documented by those who know it best, the people who live there.

Zoom in! This is your Dubai in a single image

On our sixth birthday, we are all about pictures. So here is our #mydubai offering. Using zoom.it, explore the city.

 Amir Khan, during a workout at the Gloves Community Centre on March 24, 2014 in Bolton, England, says his fight will be the real main event in Las Vegas on May 3. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Amir Khan says bout with Luis Collazo ‘will steal the show’ in Las Vegas on May 3

British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan says his fight with Luis Collazo will be the main attraction on same fight card led by Floyd Mayweather Jr and Marcos Maidana, writes Omar Al Raisi.

 This Dh17,000 Miele system can prepare your choice of coffee - from capuccino to espresso - at a touch of a button. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Miele puts art in coffee making

Miele has devoted itself to the art of preparing the black liquid with its beautifully designed coffee machines, living up to its mantra of turning kitchens into cafés.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National