AN Equal Music by Vikram Seth: A Book Review

India-based author

India’s English Language

For nearly 200 years, the British dominated India. The English language, which is spoken and understood by millions of Indians today, was one of the outcomes of British administration. It is appropriate to point out that India’s English-speaking population exceeds that of the United Kingdom and Canada combined. It has nearly the same population as the United States. This had an effect, and a slew of new writers emerged, including Mulkraj Anand, Kushwant Singh, Manohar Malgonkar, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, and Vikram Seth. Indian English writers are well-known and have carved out a space for themselves in the English literature world.

Seth, Vikram

Vikram Seth has created a reputation for himself in the realm of English Literature among these well-known names. Seth, who was born in Calcutta in 1952, currently splits his time between London and New Delhi. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books and novels. In 1996, Vikram purchased the home of Anglican poet George Herbert. He had it refurbished. He and his parents live in Delhi, India.
An Equal Musical Experience

In 1999, one of his novels, ‘An Equal Music,’ was published. Critics have praised this work, which was published after the popularity of ‘A Suitable Boy’ in 1993. Vikram Seth’s books have one feature that sticks out. The author has admitted that the majority of the imaginary characters in his books are based on his own experiences. In her memoirs, his mother, Justice Leila Seth, stated that the character Haresh in ‘A Suitable Boy’ is modelled on her husband. Seth has implied in ‘An Equal Music’ that the novel’s theme was influenced by his live-in boyfriend at the time, French musician Philippe Honoré.

Vikram Seth is a gifted writer who can seamlessly incorporate real-life characters into his fiction.

The Story

The tale is set in Europe, with gorgeous backdrops of Venice and Vienna. The plot revolves around Michael, a professional violinist who fell in love with Julia, a pianist, a decade ago. Julia, on the other hand, lingers in his mind, and he simply cannot ignore her. He genuinely cared about her. Julia re-enters Michael’s life after ten years, and Seth creates a story of passion and love.

Julia is now married and has a child, so the situation has altered. The couples’ romance blossoms, and they are forced to confront the truth about themselves. As they meet in secret, Seth brings out the intensity of their love. The novel’s covert trysts are a highlight, demonstrating Vikram Seth’s skill as a creative writer. The story takes a turn when the lovers’ musical careers are jeopardised, and there is a great melancholy when Michael learns that Julia is growing deaf. This has an impact on the reader as he learns to know the book.

Forte Vikram

Vikram Seth writes beautifully and clearly depicts the international music scene. Musical aficionados were enthralled by Seth’s accuracy in describing music in particular. No European writer or novel previously had been able to depict the complete range and potential of a person who practised music for a livelihood, according to Paolo Isotta, a prominent music critic for Il Corriere della Sera. This is a significant accomplishment for Vikram Seth and a feather in his cap.


Vikram Seth has been awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government. He’s also the recipient of the WH Smith Literary Award and the Crossword Book Award. Vikram Seth is still considered one of India’s best novelists. Seth claims he is bisexual and in 2006 he led the campaign in India which called for deletion of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which concerns homosexuality.

Private Life

Vikram Seth never formally married though he had close liaison with women. He is bisexual and lived for years with French musician Philippe Honoré. Seth has no children and lives with his parents. He was earlier educated at the prestigious Doon School and went to Oxford. Seth deserves credit for writing in a language which is not his mother tongue. One can look forward to further books from him. Vikram Seth is a Punjabi and has punctured the fallacious concept that Punjabi are not for intellectual pursuits.