Book review: Such a Long Journey

April 8, 2010

Title: Such a Long Journey
Author: Rohinton Mistry
Pages: 339

Such a Long Journey, like Mistry’s two other novels (A Fine Balance and Family Matters), deals with a poor Parsi family in Bombay. Like his other books this one too is set during Indira Gandhi’s rule. I wonder what Mistry’s fascination with Indira is about, did he grow up in Bombay during her rule?

This novel follows the Noble family. The head of the family, Gustad Noble, is the main character in the book. Gustad is a hard-working, honest man who works as a bank clerk. Unfortunately Gustad is beset with many problems. His eldest son, Sohrab, refuses to join IIT and instead wants to study Arts instead. His daughter, Roshan, falls seriously ill and does not respond to treatment. An old friend, Major Bilimoria, who rudely and abruptly disappeared writes him a mysterious letter that starts a chain of events that leads to fraud and crime.

Such a Long Journey is full of many little sketches of Indian life; riots, markets, brothels, all of them are described vividly and poetically. Mistry does a good job of creating suspense too. I don’t recall his other works being suspenseful.

I liked this book because it describes Parsi culture well. The Parsis are an ethnic and religious community in India who are the descendants of Zoroastrian refugees who fled Islamic persecution in Iran around the 10th century A.D.  They are fully integrated into Indian culture but still remain distinct; they strongly condemn marriage outside of the community and are slowly dying out.

Although Mistry’s novels are about poor Parsi families some of India’s richest business families like the Tatas and Birlas are Parsis.

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3 Responses to “Book review: Such a Long Journey”

  1. AcademyX Says:

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