Rohinton Mistry is the only author whose every novel has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Such a Long Journey (1991), A Fine Balance (1995) and Family Matters (2002) are all set in India's Parsee community. Recognised as one of the most important contemporary writers of postcolonial literature, Mistry's subtle yet powerful narratives engross general readers, excite critical acclaim and form staple elements of literature courses across the world. This study provides an insight into the key features of Mistry's work. It suggests how the author's writing can be read in terms of recent Indian political history, his native Zoroastrian culture and ethos, and the experience of migration, which now sees him living in Canada. The texts are viewed through the lens of diaspora and minority discourse theories to show how Mistry's writing is illustrative of marginal positions in relation to sanctioned national identities. In addition, Mistry utilises and blends the conventions of oral storytelling common to the Persian and South Asian traditions, with nods in the direction of the canonical figures of modern European literature, sometimes reworking and reinflecting their registers and preoccupations to create a distinctive voice redolent of the hybrid inheritance of Parsee culture and of the postcolonial predicament more generally.
Conclusion 171 7 Conclusion – Rohinton Mistry: international man of stories Twentieth-century Indians … have voyaged widely in search of livelihoods and ideas, and they have discovered themselves through the clarities, oversights and yearnings that distance induces. The exact character of the homelands they have journeyed from has proved elusive, and often imaginary. Where in the world is India? (Sunil Khilnani, The Idea of India, p. 198) ROHINTON Mistry has produced fictions characterised by a style that is at once unobtrusive and apparently direct, but
snowmen and snowball fights and Christmas trees are in the pages of Enid Blyton’s books, dispersed amidst the adventures of the Famous Five, and the Five Find-Outers, and the Secret Seven. My snowflakes are even less forgettable than the old man’s, for they never melt. (TFB, 244) This evocative passage captures the poignant enigma of the exile’s imagination, forged in one culture and location but Morey_Mistry_01_Chap 1 1 9/6/04, 4:06 pm 2 Rohinton Mistry obliged to grapple in language with the everyday realities of another. It is tempting to see reflected here
152 Rohinton Mistry 6 Critical overview C Peerbhoy Paanwalla had mobilized his talents … to weave a tale that defied genre or description. It was not tragedy, comedy or history; not pastoral, tragic-comical, historical pastoral or tragical-historical. It was not a ballad or an ode, masque or anti-masque, fable or elegy, parody or threnody. Although a careful analysis may have revealed that it possessed a smattering of all these characteristics. (SLJ, 306) RITICAL interest in Mistry’s work has thus far followed six main channels: the author’s position as part
Tales from Firozsha Baag 27 2 ‘Throbbing between two lives’: the structures of migration in Tales from Firozsha Baag the further they go, the more they’ll remember, they can take it from me (TFB, 72) IN 1987, Rohinton Mistry’s first volume, a collection of linked short stories, was published in the United States as Swimming Lessons and Other Stories from Firozsha Baag, and in Canada and the United Kingdom as Tales from Firozsha Baag. It contained the two Hart House Prize-winning stories, ‘Auspicious Occasion’ and ‘One Sunday’, but also, in retrospect, can be
out in subcontinental space.1 Morey_Mistry_03_Ch3 69 9/6/04, 4:14 pm 70 Rohinton Mistry Rohinton Mistry’s first two novels, Such a Long Journey and A Fine Balance, appear to bear out this suggestion. Both have something of the political thriller about them, although, as always in Mistry’s writing, the operations of history are linked to, and impinge on, humdrum, quotidian life. In the earlier novel, published in 1991, political events put pressure on a family already under strain.2 Gustad Noble becomes alienated from his disobedient elder son, his precious
been made homeless. In a few short weeks Bombay’s reputation as a haven of tolerance and communal eclecticism lay in tatters.1 The Maharashtrian state elections of 1995 took place against a background of anti-Muslim sentiment consequent on the civil unrest which had followed the destruction of the Babri Mosque two and a half years earlier. At the polls the Shiv Sena (Army of Morey_Mistry_05_Ch5 125 9/6/04, 4:15 pm 126 Rohinton Mistry Shiva), depicting itself as the ‘defender of Hindus’, won enough support to form a coalition government with the BJP (Bharatiya
94 Rohinton Mistry 4 Thread and circuses: performing in the spaces of city and nation in A Fine Balance you only have power over people as long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again. (Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle, p. 107) M you cannot draw lines and compartments, and refuse to budge beyond them … You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair … In the end, it’s all a question of balance. (A Fine Balance, p. 231) ISTRY’S interest in the