This was followed by the publication of his The Golden Gate, “the great California novel” (1986). Much earlier, he had published a travel book about hitch hiking through Western China, called From Heaven Lake. He won a Guggenheim Fellowship and returned to India in 1986.
Seth’s The Golden Gate was hailed as “a splendid achievement”, as “a thoroughly Californian novel, peopled by unmistakably Californian characters” and “a splendid tour de force of the transcendence of the mere tour de force”. The tributes were well-deserved indeed.” In fact it took great courage and daring on his part to venture this great attempt at novel writing in verse in spite of the discouragement he received from many of his friends except Timothy Steele, a poet and teacher at the University of California.
Like his friend and mentor, Victoria Steele (husband of Timothy Steele) Seth favoured the traditional stanzaic and metrical forms and they believed that modern poetry’ had floundered because it was no longer accessible to the common reader. It had become too arcane from everyday experience. Seth has frankly stated that he does not enjoy most modern poetry. Similarly, his views about prose fiction are anti-modern anti-experimentative.
His Golden Gate written in fourteen-line metred stanzas presents the story of how a friend of John places a personal ad in a newspaper on John’s behalf and how a succession of romantic relationships follows which include a homosexual one. Of the five main characters, two are ‘yuppies’ (young urban professionals). Part of the pleasure yielded by the book extends from the way in which it treats contemporary subjects poetically.