(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

A Suitable Boy is a tale of four families told in 1,474 pages. The widowed Mrs. Rupa Mehra has two sons, Arun, who is married to Meenakshi, a daughter of the prominent Chatterjis of Calcutta, and Varun, a race track habitué much picked on by the older Arun. She also has two daughters, Savita, married to Pran Kapoor, and the bright, attractive Lata, whose need for a proper husband preoccupies Mrs. Mehra.

The Kapoors also live in Brahmpur, where Mr. Mahesh Kapoor is minister of revenue for Purva Pradesh. The Kapoors have a daughter, Veena, whose husband, Kedernath Tandon, works in the shoe trade. Veena and Kedernath’s nine-year-old son, Bhaskar, is a mathematical genius, who shares the same name as a famous Indian mathematician. (In a similar bit of onomastic play, Mr. Kapoor’s secretary, Abdul Salaam, shares, with an extra vowel, the name of the Pakistani winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1979, Abdul Salam.) Pran Kapoor teaches English at the university in Calcutta, while his easygoing younger brother, Maan, indulges himself with courtesans, drink, and gambling.

The other two families are the Muslim Khans of Brahmpur and the Hindu Chatterjis of Calcutta. The Begum Abida Khan lives alone, her husband having abandoned her to live in Pakistan. Her husband’s brother, the widower Nawab Sahib of Baitar, oversees the Khans’ affairs, which consist mainly of the doings of his married daughter, Zainab, and his two sons, Imtiaz...

(The entire section is 593 words.)