Seth, Vikram "A Suitable Boy" - 1993
This novel is one of the largest I ever read. It has about 1,500 pages. The story is settled in India in the fifties though the book was published in 1993 as an "epic about life in India". I've read quite a few Indian novels by now but this is by far the most positive one even though it also seems to be a good recollection of Indian life and politics.
Although the main focus is on the family that is looking for "a suitable boy" (to marry) for one of their daughters, the novel centres on four families with different backgrounds, both Hindus and Muslims.
Apparently, it took the author about a decade to write it. And it was worth it. The story unfolds very nicely, you notice that the time was taken to describe the life of the characters. After this publication, Vikram Seth has been compared with Tolstoy, Dickens and Eliot.
This is really a great book and worth reading all those pages.
From the back cover:
"Vikram Seth's novel is, at its core, a love story: Lata and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, are both trying to find -- through love or through exacting maternal appraisal -- a suitable boy for Lata to marry. Set in the early 1950s, in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, A Suitable Boy takes us into the richly imagined world of four large extended families and spins a compulsively readable tale of their lives and loves. A sweeping panoramic portrait of a complex, multiethnic society in flux, A Suitable Boy remains the story of ordinary people caught up in a web of love and ambition, humor and sadness, prejudice and reconciliation, the most delicate social etiquette and the most appalling violence."
I also liked "An Equal Music" by the same author although it is quite a different novel.
I also read "Two Lives", a biography about the author's great-uncle and aunt. A wonderful book.