He grew up in Calcutta and attended English-language schools. Later he went to college in Oxford and worked there with philosophy, politics and economics. At Stanford University, he received a master's degree in economics. After that he went to Nanjing ( China) and studied Chinese literature.
Own literary inspiration he gathered in his home by traveling through the Indian subcontinent and the way of life of his countrymen, especially the lower strata of the population studied. From this be published in 1993, monumental novel A suitable boy emerged (Eng. A Suitable Boy, 1995). The nearly 2,000 -page epic is an infra in post-colonial India love story of passion and tradition. Seth designed his novel in the lush style of Russian writers of the 19th century and could therefore represent social conflicts India wide and vivid.
In 2007 he was honored with the Padma Shri.
In September 2006, Vikram Seth starts punished in India an initiative of leading Indian writers, artists, academics, and lawyers for the abolition of the Indian penal code 377, the homosexual acts with up to ten years in prison.
- German, translated by Annette pit: Two lives. Portrait of a Love. Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-596-16478-3.