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Such a Long Journey Paperback – June 2, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (June 2, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679738711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679738718
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Mistry does something that only the really natural writers can do: without apparent effort, manipulation or contrivance, he creates characters you like instantly and will gladly follow for as long as the novel leads. The book is about an Indian family during the years of Indira Ganhdi's rule; it's also a study of the times, its politics and corruption, and was especially interesting for me, who knows so little about life in the rest of the world. It had to be a good book: after I read Such a Long Journey, I wanted to go right out and buy a plane ticket and see India for myself.

From Publishers Weekly

Short-listed for the Booker Prize, this intelligent fictional portrait of the corrupt aspects of Indira Gandhi's regime focuses on a bank clerk who becomes a secret operative as an Indian-Pakistan war threatens in 1971.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Rohinton Mistry was born in 1952 and grew up in Bombay, India, where he also attended university. In 1975 he emigrated to Canada, where he began a course in English and Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He is the author of three novels and one collection of short stories. His debut novel, Such a Long Journey (1991), won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book and the Governor General's Award, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It was made into an acclaimed feature film in 1998. His second novel, A Fine Balance (1995), won many prestigious awards, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction and the Giller Prize, as well as being shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Irish Times International Fiction Prize. His collection of short stories, Tales from Firozsha Baag, was published in 1987. In 2002 Faber published Mistry's third novel, Family Matters, which was longlisted for the 2002 Man Booker Prize.

Customer Reviews

This author is indeed talented.
R. Harrison
Mistry develops his characters and surroundings in great details.
Ravi Aranke
So it was the curiosity which made me read this book.
Kewal P. Datta

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
Sometimes compared to Dickens or Victor Hugo for the strength of his descriptions, Rohinton Mistry uses "ordinary" men and women as his protagonists and fills his novels with the sights, sounds, smells, and color of India. Depicting his characters as neither saints nor sinners, he involves the reader in their lives as they try to survive the complexities of their culture.

In this novel, Gustad Noble and his wife Dilnavaz, living in a congested apartment building in Bombay, try to lead good lives and inspire their children during Indira Gandhi's rule in the 1970s, with all its political, professional, and social upheaval. India is on the verge of war with the Muslims of Pakistan, and though Gustad, a Parsi, is aware of political chicanery, he is far more pre-occupied with having his son accepted at a school of technology, doing his job as a bank supervisor, and supporting his family. Constant blackouts and continually deteriorating conditions on the street add to the frustrations of Gustad's life.

Then Jimmy Bilimoria, an old friend, asks Gustad for help, claiming that he is training freedom fighters in Bangladesh to act on behalf of the Indian government against Pakistani "butchers." Gustad reluctantly agrees to use his position at the bank to deposit money to a secret account, but he soon finds himself enmeshed in a spiral from which he cannot break out, his life turned upside down.

Throughout the novel, the wall outside Gustad's apartment building symbolizes the larger world of Bombay and parallels some aspects of Gustad's own life. At the outset, it is used as a latrine, breeding illness in the neighborhood but keeping the noise and tumult of the street out of the apartment house.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Otis on December 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
I truly enjoyed this book but it failed to meet my high expectations of Mistry's compelling and totally engrossing story-telling. It is a great story but if left me wishing for more depth and impact. Perhaps my biggest mistake is that I read A Fine Balance a few years ago and it still haunts me. It is such an intense journey, none of his other work has come close to it, in my opinion.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
Coming from Bombay I thought this book depicted Parsis in a fantastic manner - especially their unique characteristics, the way they speak and even their idiosyncrasies. If you are at all familiar with the culture you will find yourself smiling knowingly and chuckling at all the little details Mistry throws in to depict them. I loved the style and character development. My sister had read A Fine Balance and said it was depressing so I had shied away from Rohinton Mistry for a long time. Big mistake. I hear A Fine Balance and Family Matters are even better and I can't wait to read them.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By ST on November 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
Rohinton Mistry is easily the best among all Indian expat writers. He remembers, cherishes and captures India better than anyone else I've read. The difference between his two masterpieces, "A Fine Balance" and "Such a Long Journey", is that the first is all-encompassing and hence somewhat diluted; whereas "Such a Long Journey" lives in a simple microcosm affected by outside events and is richer as a result. Both are great books though, and the author's stamp is unmistakable in both: think "War and Peace" vs "Anna Karenina".

If you, like me, grew up in a middle class family in Bombay, "Such a Long Journey" could very well be about a neighbour of yours. Mistry takes you on a ride around the streets and markets of the Bombay you loved, makes politically incorrect (but funny) jokes about Sardars and Parsis, criticizes the Shiv Sena and the municipality, and even adds a sort of preface to the deaths of Sanjay and Indira Gandhi. He makes you remember - with a lot of fondness - Rex Jelly and gum bottles with rubber nipples and many other things that once made up socialist India. He makes you nostalgic about the past, and captures Bombay in an amazing time capsule of turbulence, struggle and joy. Such a Long Journey also - plain and simple - tells a wonderful story about wonderful characters.

The best thing about Mistry's writing is that he is so realistic about the everyday things. He will translate word for word and make the spoken sentence more authentic. He will not explain a Gujrati idiom or Hindi swear word in a footnote, like many expat authors are prone to do. This enriches the experience even for a non-Indian - it just makes for better writing.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lover of books on February 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book was touching and well-written, but it didn't have the powerful heartbreaking ability or emotional resonance of A Fine Balance. I would recommend it, but make sure you read this one before you read his others. His style definitely developed over time, as is evident in the artistry of A Fine Balance. He is an amazing author whose works I enjoy. I also thought Family Matters was a better novel.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alan Brown on October 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Rohinton Mistry's first novel provides a door through which to step into the lives of a Parsi community in early 1970's Bombay. The world of Khodadad building turns out to be not so alien to a western reader: the same jealousies, petty grudges and gossip one might expect from one's own neighbors. The religious conflict and overwhelming poverty that always loom large in western media portrayals of India are here relegated to the background, and the success and tribulations of the Noble family come to the fore in what is essentially the story of an ordinary man living in what he perceives to be an ordianry world.
While Gustad Noble's home life seems to be spiralling out of control, one son refusing to attend the right college, his daughter enduring never-ending bouts of sickness, and his wife feverishly invoking traditional treatments on all sides, he becomes anonymously embroiled in a scandal that reaches to the heart of Indira Ghandi's corrupt power structure, claims his best friend, and shakes his faith in his country to its core.
Gustad's efforts to clean up the wall of the Khodadad compound, for years an impromptu lavatory, yield results beyond expectation - transforming a cesspool into a shrine. The problems facing India in the 70's, religious intolerance and the aftereffects of partition, are reflected in miniature as the wall and the Noble's are caught between municipal corruption and the mob.
All in all, very much worth the read. I'm looking forward to tackling "A Fine Balance", Mistry's second (and longer) novel, also shortlisted for the Booker. Cheers
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