Award-winning Indian novelist and poet Vikram Seth faces the prospect of having to return his $1.7 million advance for the sequel to his 1993 classic A Suitable Boy.

His agents, David Godwin Associates, are in negotiations with publishers Hamish Hamilton over reported delays by the author in bringing out A Suitable Girl.

While some reports suggested this may be a result of cost-cutting measures being put in place following the recent mega merger of Penguin (that owns Hamish Hamilton) with Random House, the publishers have dismissed the idea.

“Penguin never comments on individual contract negotiations with our authors... it should be noted that these discussions precede the Penguin-Random House merger, and are not at all connected to the merger or erroneous suggestions of cost cutting,” said a spokesperson for the publishing giant.

Combined, the companies publish over 15,000 books annually.

A Suitable Boy, considered one of the longest novels ever published in a single volume in the English language, is set in post-Independence India. It marked its 20th anniversary with a paperback re-issue in May.

The book’s key character, Lata, was to be juxtaposed within a contemporary Indian context for A Suitable Girl, initially expected later this year and whose publication was later pushed to 2014/2015.

David Godwin, Seth’s literary agent who is heading the ongoing negotiations with the publishers said the author “has been known to take his time with his books.”

He did not confirm details of the discussions at this stage and whether it could lead to Seth having to return his hefty advance, but is hopeful of settling on a new deadline for the delivery of the manuscript.

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