Wednesday, November 9
VIKRAM SETH returns with TWO LIVES. Vikram Seth's epic family novel, A Suitable Boy, was an international sensation that won him million of readers - and favorable comparisons with Tolstoy. In TWO LIVES, this gifted writer returns to matters of family, this time with an eloquent dual biography of a beloved uncle and aunt, whose extraordinary, intertwined stories of cultural diaspora traverse some of the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century - from India at the end of the Raj to Germany before and during the war, to Auschwitz and the Holocaust, Israel and Palestine, and Britain in the 1970s. Seth first met this interracial couple when he came to London as a prep school student. Young Vikram knew little about his proper yet affectionate Indian uncle and his more reserved German aunt, but they welcomed him into heir home, and, in time, almost adopted him as their own. Years later, after Henny died, Vikram decided to write this book about their unconventional lives, and he conducted interviews with the elderly Shanti. But much remained shadowy about the circumspect Henny until an invaluable cache of letters, unknown even to Shanti, was found in a forgotten trunk in their attic. This secret correspondence, much of it written to friends in Berlin after the war, allowed so much more detail to emerge about this singular story of hardship, deprivation, sacrifice and sadness, but also of friendship and hope. TWO LIVES underscores the essential power of friendship and family in helping ordinary people navigate the vicissitudes of history. Vikram Seth was born in India and educated there and in England, California, and China. He has written acclaimed books in several genres: The Golden Gate, a novel in verse; From Heaven Lake, a travel book; Beastly Tales, animal fables; An Equal Music, a novel; and the spectacular epic, A Suitable Boy. This is his first book of non-fiction, a beautiful and engaging fusion of memoir, history, and biography.
7:30 PM at Cody's Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley
Added by suman_ganguli on November 8, 2005