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Family Matters

This story is about a Parsi, Nariman Vakeel, who lives with his son and daughter.

india Updated: Feb 11, 2006 13:10 IST
Shatam Ray

Family Matters
Rohinton Mistry
• Price — Rs 455
• Publication — Faber & Faber

This certainly is a book everyone should read. Anyone who is keen on reading good Indian authors, should read this author who I do not think is as celebrated as Vikram Seth or Salman Rushdie.

When I picked up this book I was privy to two conflicting views on the book and the author. While one hailed the book as one of the best ever, the other said that the book suffered from exaggerated praises, and was a modest attempt at writing.

I unfortunately endorsed the hype created by my former friend though it raised the expectations from the book manifold consequently. The story is about a septuagenarian Parsi, Nariman Vakeel, who lives with his middle-aged son and daughter.

A fateful accident compels his stepchildren to send Vakeel to their half sister who is married with two kids. What follows is a moving story of an old and lonely man coming to terms with his past, having a bearing on all those related to him.

It is a story of family ties, deception and revelation from adultery to sibling love and rivalry the story encompasses in a sophisticated and engrossing manner all hues of human emotions. Mistry makes no fault at making all the right noises especially about the growing bigotry and inter- community intolerance that has crept in religious India.

Though I do not contest that these are well entrenched in the plot, somehow at times it seems tedious and an attempt to stuff one issue too many. Other thing that disappointed me was the ending. It seemed too vaguely done. But the setting of the book in a typically middle class family in the post-liberalisation decade comes out well.

It’s a must read as it’s a good piece of literature where Mistry speaks about life and its glorious vagaries in an effective way. The language is simple, detailed narrative without the ornamental eloquence that has come to represent Indian literary works.

The ambivalence in the ending poses essentially a simple question does life always have happy endings or are all change in life meet our expectations or satisfactions?

First Published: Feb 11, 2006 13:10 IST