Next time, Alex, just call me

Alex Beam writes:

I have been e-mailing secondhand bookstores in India, trying to buy the New Delhi edition of Vikram Seth’s 1993 novel, ”A Suitable Boy.” I read somewhere that the Delhi edition used much lighter paper than the subsequently published London and New York volumes. I thought that owning one would provide the necessary incentive to read the highly praised, 1,349-page monster.
But now Jeff Bezos’s may have the solution to my problem: Amazon Pages, which will allow customers to purchase books by the page, starting next year. No more phoning around the subcontinent; I’ll buy the first 50 pages of Seth’s masterwork and see if it holds my interest. Or maybe I’ll buy pages 1,155 to 1,246: ”Someone is stabbed in Brahmpur, someone dies / While private shame is viewed by public eyes.” (Yes, the table of contents, like Seth’s wonderful novel ”Golden Gate,” is in heroic couplets.)


  1. I’m in the middle of ploughing through “A Suitable Boy.” This is a suggestion for Alex Beam: get someone to buy a paperback version here in India and send it to you. Works out much better financially at Rs. 500 per book (about US$ 10-12)

  2. Thalassa, welcome back–yup, the ghazal, the haiku, the sonnet, I think he’s fairly eclectic about verse forms. He borrows them freely from everywhere, and I like the fact that he’s willing to even stoop to doggerel on occasion.AFJ raises an interesting issue: many of my friends who live outside India make a point of saving their book-buying sprees for their visits here. Most of the books you see in Indian bookshops are specially discounted for the Indian market; I always suffer from the reverse problem when I shop abroad. (Twenty pounds for one measly paperback, when I could’ve bought five for the same price back home? Tchah.)

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