LONDON, Jan 03, 2005 Vikram Seth chosen from Britain for award of the Pravasi Bhartiya Samman patra to be given at the third Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in Mumbai

Vikram Seth has won accolades for writing poems and novels in English. But whenever I met him, the conversation was in Hindi and he spoke it so well, recalling his young days in Patna and relating anecdotes in chaste Hindustani. He never pretended as if he had to labour to speak in Hindi.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed NRI,Vikram Seth
trustee of British Museum



British Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed Mr.Vikram Seth, 52, trustee of British Museum for a period of four years. The British Museum illuminates to present and future generations the histories of cultures. The museum holds for the nation collections of antiquities, prints and drawings, ethnography and coins and medals.

Vikram Seth has published eight notable works - six collections of poetry and two novels. During the period before and after Seth published his first novel, he contributed poetic works for more than a decade. Seth's books of poetry include Mappings (1980), From Heaven Lake (1983), which discusses a hitchhiking trip through Nepal into India that Seth took while studying in China, The Humble Administrator's Garden (1985), All You Who Sleep Tonight (1990), Beastly Tales (1991), and Three Chinese Poets (1992). These works broach a variety of subjects indicative of Seth's education and experiences, evidenced in a passage from All You Who Sleep Tonight entitled "Sit"

In 1986, Vikram Seth wrote The Golden Gate, his first novel, called "Byronesque" by some critics (Perry). The Golden Gate, which is a novel composed entirely of rhyming tentrameter sonnets--690 of them to be precise--is a satirical romance describing the stories of young professionals in San Francisco throughout their quests and questions to find, then deal with, love in their own lives as well as each others'. After this initial work, Seth slowly produced A Suitable Boy, the 1,349 page colossus whose publication in 1993 propelled Seth into the public spotlight.

He has received a wide range of awards for his writing, including the Sahitya Akademi Award, the W H Smith Prize, and both the Commonwealth Poetry and Fiction Prizes.Seth was given a $375,000 advance for "A Suitable Boy" from his British publisher, Phoenix House, and $600,000 by HarperCollins in New York (Robinson). The novel was originally more than 2,000 pages in length. After receiving lesser offers from his publishers, Seth revised the work, and finally sired a literary Goliath that is 3.5 lbs, 1,349 pages (Yardley). To Seth's surprise, bids the second time around were much larger than the less-than-$10,000 income he had previously managed with, and the novel was published in April of 1993


Vikram Seth was born in Calcutta in 1952. Throughout Seth's childhood, his father Prem Seth was a shoe company executive and his mother Laila Seth served as a judge (Bemrose). Vikram Seth is the oldest of three--his brother conducts Buddhist meditational tours and his youngest sister serves as an Austrian diplomat (Robinson, Rachlin).

After completing his primary education, Seth left India to study at Oxford University, England, earning a degree in philosophy, politics, and economics (a PPE degree). He further enrolled at Stanford University, intending to earn a PhD in Economics, but never completed his study. While at Stanford, Seth was also a also a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing from 1977-1978. During a period from 1980-1982, he studied classical Chinese poetry and different languages at Nanjing University, China. Seth mentions that he "never had any passion for economics, not what I felt for writing poetry" (Robinson). But Seth does comment upon his failure to complete a PhD: "I feel a bit of regret that I didn't finish my Ph.D. I'm interested in it, but it's not a passion, the way writing is" (Rachlin)

Prizes and awards

1983 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet

1985 Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia) The Humble Administrator's Garden

1993 Irish Times International Fiction Prize (shortlist) A Suitable Boy

1994 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book) A Suitable Boy

1994 WH Smith Literary Award A Suitable Boy

2001 EMMA (BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Award) for Best Book/Novel An Equal Music