Vikram Seth ought to have won the Booker Prize in 1993 - or so most of those who have read A Suitable Boy will surely agree. It gives a superb portrait of a whole nation in a time of political, social and cultural turmoil; but it is for the human portraits that it will be loved and remembered. Mrs Rupa Mehra, the lachrymose, exasperating, transparently manipulative and infinitely touching mother, who is seeking a suitable boy as a husband for her daughter Lata, is a glorious comic creation.
Readers who expect - or hope and long for – the same panoramic sweep in An Equal Music will be disappointed. Wisely, perhaps, Seth has avoided repetition. His new novel is set mainly in England: his hero is from unexotic Rochdale (which makes 'people in London smile, as if the