Vikram Seth strikes 1.7 mn pound publishing deal

July 2nd, 2009 - 8:05 pm ICT by IANS  

By Binoo K. John
New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) Indian writer Vikram Seth, who is working on a sequel to his blockbuster novel “A Suitable Boy”, has finalised a deal worth around 1.7 million pounds to move his entire back list to Penguin UK, sources close to the deal said.

This will be the biggest such deal struck by an Indian author and places Seth far above the league of Indian writers in commercial terms.

The deal was midwifed by well known agent David Godwin. Godwin and Seth were hoping for a full 2 million pound deal but, after three publishers in the bidding pulled out, the deal was finally closed at around the 1.7 million mark, sources said.

Penguin India issued a press release late in the evening saying Penguin is publishing the new novel by Seth to be titled “Suitable Girl”, a sequel to the mock-epic “A Suitable Boy” published about 15 years ago, and a collection of poems.

The release had no details of the deal with Penguin UK.

Random House, Picador and Harper Collins are the other biggies who bid for the mega deal in Britain.

Most of them bid around 1.2 million pounds, but Godwin came back asking for a raising of the bar. The other publishers pulled out and Penguin remained to get the deal at around 1.7 million pounds.

The Rs.13-14 crore deal is the biggest by any subcontinental writer.

Historian Ramchandra Guha recently signed a deal close to Rs.1 crore to move his back list to Penguin India.

Seth’s deal is believed to cover the entire Commonwealth and the Indian subcontinent where he has the most readers. Apart from “Suitable Boy”, Seth’s best-sellers are his collection of poems, the China travelogue “From Heaven Lake”, the novel in verse “The Golden Gate” and “An Equal Music”.

His last non-fiction title “Two Lives” did not get the expected response. When Seth got a 200,000 pound advance for a “Suitable Boy”, he ironically termed it a ludicrous advance. Obviously, he has moved on in life.

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