Saturday, June 04, 2011

Beastly Tales from Here and There
Beastly Tales from Here and There

"An old man and his wife possessed
A zebra of enormous zest," (p 87)
- and so begins a tale by Vikram Seth

Adapting tales from China, Greece, the Ukraine and his homeland of India, and presenting them in rhyming verse, Vikram Seth has created a small masterpiece of fables for our time. You will meet again the tortoise and the hare, and you may recognize the greedy crocodile, but there are other tales with characters not so familiar with strange names and traits, but each with a message that can be comprehended by young and old. So short that it can easily be read in one quick session and so enjoyable that it is difficult to put down, this collection of fables adds to Seth's oeuvre an added dimension. So, if you are not ready to tackle the fourteen hundred plus pages of his novel of India, A Suitable Boy, and are not ready for a modern novel written in rhyming couplets, Golden Gate, you may still be ready for this delicious morsel of a book.


parrish lantern said...

not read any Seth, which is damned stupid & seriously remiss of me, as I even had A suitable boy from the library, but ran out of time. will have to resolve that issue thanks for the reminder.

James said...

I would place A Suitable Boy in the same class as, say, Middlemarch, War & Peace, and The Cairo Trilogy. In its own very literary way it covers cultural and historical events of India in 1951-2 while telling the romance a young Indian girl and the interrelated stories of her relations and friends. You get references to Shakespeare, Austen, Hardy and others while feeling the continuing presence of Great Britain in politics and business. It is a major achievement.