On ‘An Equal Music’ by Vikram Seth

I finished reading the aforementioned novel recently. I don’t do a lot of reading for pleasure, only sporadically and generally only when someone physically shoves a book under my nose, and then mostly on trains. Practically everywhere is at least a 5+ hour train ride from this part of the world, so reading has provided a useful distraction on a couple of very long journeys I’ve taken recently. Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music explores the professional and personal trials and tribulations of Michael, a London violinist, and his relationship both with music and with a fellow musician and lover from his past. It’s a very powerful, gripping read, even if the sometimes overly poetic register can be a bit cloying. That said, it certainly does add weight to the descriptions of musical experiences, accurately capturing their power and ephemerality, even or perhaps especially for someone who lives by it and for it day to day. Once it gets going, the narrative is really engaging, and the story of Julia’s deafness quite moving. It resonated with me on lots of levels, as it does lots of musicians, I’m sure. Highly recommended.

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