Two Lives weaves together two extraordinary stories that comprise one astonishing love affair: that of Vikram's great-uncle Shanti, brought up in India and sent in the 1930s to Berlin to study dentistry, and that of his great-aunt Henny, whose German-Jewish family took Shanti in as a lodger. When Henny fled to England just before the war, she was met by the only person she knew in the country: Shanti.
The events that shaped their lives shaped a century: war took Shanti to North Africa, the Middle East and the battle of Monte Cassino, where his right arm was blown off; persecution left Henny desperately searching for news of her mother and sister. After marrying Henny, Shanti defied his injury and once again resumed his profession, and in the 1970s the childless couple welcomed a new arrival to their home: their great-nephew from India, the teenage student, Vikram Seth.
Two Lives is a remarkable tapestry encompassing the history of the twentieth-century; part biography, part memoir, part meditation on our times, it is a true tale masterfully told by one of our greatest living writers.
Vikram Seth was born in India and educated there and in England, California, and China. He has written acclaimed books in several genres: verse novel, The Golden Gate; travel book, From Heaven Lake; animal fables, Beastly Tales; epic novel, A Suitable Boy. His most recent novel, An Equal Music, was published in 1999.