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Family Matters Audio, Cassette – Unabridged, September, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Set during the 1990s in an overcrowded and politically corrupt Bombay, Rohinton Mistry's Family Matters depicts a family being torn apart by lies, love, and its unresolved demons of the past. Nariman Vakeel is an aging patriarch whose advancing Parkinson's disease and its related complications threaten to destroy his large Parsi family. When Nariman breaks his ankle and becomes bedridden, his two stepchildren turn his care over to their half-sister, Roxanne, who lives in a two-room flat with her husband and two sons. What follows is each character's reaction to this situation, from Roxanne's husband's struggle to provide for his family without neglecting his conscience to their sons' coming of age in an era of uncertainty. Expertly interspersed between these dilemmas are Nariman's tortured remembrances of a forbidden love and its inescapable consequences ("no matter where you go in the world, there is only one story: of youth, and loss, and yearning for redemption. So we tell the same story, over and over. Just the details are different").

Family Matters is a compelling, emotional, and persuasive testimony to the importance of memories in every family's history. In a poetic style rich with detail, Mistry creates a world where fate dances with free will, and the results are often more familiar than anyone would ever care to admit. --Gisele Toueg --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Warm, humane, tender and bittersweet are not the words one would expect to describe a novel that portrays a society where the government is corrupt, the standard of living is barely above poverty level and religious, ethnic and class divisions poison the community. Yet Mistrys compassionate eye and his ability to focus on the small decencies that maintain civilization, preserve the family unit and even lead to happiness attest to his masterly skill as a writer who makes sense of the world by using laughter, as one of his characters observes. Bombay in the mid-1990s, a once-elegant city in the process of deterioration, is mirrored in the physical situation of elderly retired professor Nariman Vakeel, whose body is succumbing to the progressive debilitation of Parkinsons disease. Narimans apartment, which he shares with his two resentful, middle-aged stepchildren, is also in terrible disrepair. But when an accident forces him to recuperate in the tortuously crowded apartment that barely accommodates his daughter Roxana, her husband and two young boys, family tensions are exacerbated and the limits of responsibility and obligation are explored with a full measure of anguish. In the ensuing situation, everyones behavior deteriorates, and the affecting secret of Narimans thwarted lifetime love affair provides a haunting leitmotif. Light moments of domestic interaction, a series of ridiculous comic situations, ironic juxtapositions and tenderly observed human eccentricities provide humorous relief, as the author of A Fine Balance again explores the tightrope act that constitutes life on this planet. Mistry is not just a fiction writer; he's a philosopher who finds meaning-indeed, perhaps a divine plan in small human interactions. This beautifully paced, elegantly expressed novel is notable for the breadth of its vision as well as its immensely appealing characters and enticing plot.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: New Millennium Audio; Unabridged edition (September 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590072731
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590072738
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 4.3 x 2.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,757,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on September 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As Mistry makes clear in this novel, the "one important story [is] of youth, and loss, and yearning for redemption...Just the details are different." With these themes as the bedrock of his story, he depicts the world of a multigenerational Parsi family in Bombay, their world changed forever when Nariman Vakeel, a 79-year-old former professor and sufferer from Parkinson's disease, falls and breaks his leg, effectively ending any possibility of an independent life. His stepchildren, Coomy and Jal, quickly dump Nariman in the two-room apartment of their younger half-sister, Roxana Chenoy, her husband Yezad, and two sons, supposedly for only three weeks, while his leg heals. Beset with financial problems, lack of space, and resentment of Coomy and Jal, who remain in their father's 7-room apartment, the family does its best, but tensions rise and slowly erode their relationships, precipitating intense personal crises for each family member.

Concentrating more on the world writ small than on the broader, more expansive views of A Fine Balance, Mistry creates a number of vibrant and fully drawn characters. Nariman Vakeel, recalling his dreams and disappointments, his 11-year love for Lucy Braganza, and his disastrous arranged marriage, is touching in his neediness and in his apologetic helplessness. His grandchildren delight in his stories and seek ways to help out; Roxana makes do in every way possible, tending to Nariman's most personal needs; and Yezad, frustrated by the lack of financial support from Coomy and Jal and a job in which he is underpaid, feels jealous of the old man's claims on Roxana.
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Format: Hardcover
Within Bombay's Towers of Silence, the Parsis expose their dead to hungry vultures-a practice as environmentally friendly as it is macabre. Ethnic Persians who had migrated to India, the Parsis have traditionally led Bombay's commercial class. And though they have become an endangered species due to stagnating birth rates and miscegenation, their Zoroastrianism has largely removed them from the constant squabbling of Bombay's Hindus and Muslims, which a decade ago erupted into carnage and fire.
Behind the riots was the Shiv Sena, a Hindu supremacist band of thugs, whose agenda includes abolishing Valentine's Day, razing mosques and, according to writer Rohinton Mistry, "subjecting innocent letters and postcards to incineration if the address reads Bombay instead of Mumbai." Such is the cultural and political backdrop of this exciting new novel by Mistry.
Any novel set in Bombay must be as vast as the city. Mistry's knowledge of its customs, locales and languages is encyclopedic, his cast of characters panoramic, and his portrayal of Indian attitudes spot on. Indians perceive the use of toilet paper as unhygienic; they often converse in trite proverbs, and their attitude toward the West is decidedly conflicted. So is their attitude toward India, a great country and a "hopeless" one. Indians writing in English are producing some of today's most inspiring and original fiction, and I strongly recommend this one.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the first great novel of the 21st Century that I've read. I think FAMILY MATTERS is a masterpiece. I don't use that term often. But this is the real McCoy. The quality of the writing is up there with Tolstoy and Victor Hugo. There is no "magic realism" here. Everything that happens comes out of character and obeys the Law of Cause and Effect. Nothing is arbitrary. This is a novel of karma. Others have summarized the plot. What they don't tell you is how moving this book is. There were several times in the book I found tears streaming down my face. My tears were never for the big moments in the book, but for the small deeds of love among family members: a father for his sons, a boy for his brother, a woman for her father, a small boy for his grandfather. Dickens was really good at writing mean people. So is Mistry, but unlike Dickens, his mean people have a human side, too. You can understand why they are mean and what has made them that way. His good people can be petty and unreasonable at times, too. I ended up loving them all. With his fellow Indians, Mistry shares a kaleidoscopic power of description, but he's also got a strong sense of structure. Whereas all the other Indian books I have read fell apart around ¾ of the way through (GOD OF SMALL THINGS, MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN, RED EARTH AND POURING RAIN, etc.), FAMILY MATTERS is solidly and logically constructed from beginning to end, making it a work of art. This is a great book by a great writer. I want to read everything Mistry writes. Five stars.
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Format: Hardcover
Mistry's latest novel, Family Matters, is a flawless gem and is a worthy successor to his equally impressive A Fine Balance. At the heart of Family Matters is the aging Nariman Vakeel who is in rapidly deteroriating health due to Parkinson's. Nariman is haunted by dreams of his ex-girlfriend, Lucy Braganza, a girl his parents forced him to renounce. He is cared for by his children Coomy and Jal. Coomy is a cranky woman with "too much anger" within her to care for her father well. When Nariman slips and hurts himself seriously on a walk, Coomy and Jal transfer custody of their bedridden father to their half-sister, Roxana Chenoy. Roxana's is a happy family with a doting husband, Yezad, and two wonderful sons, Murad and Jehangir. The arrival of Nariman in an already cramped apartment, though, puts enormous financial and emotional burdens on the family. As Nariman puts it, "People have their own lives, it's not helpful when something disturbs those lives." Family Matters portrays the daily play of emotions with remarkable acuity.
Mistry paints all of his characters very realistically with real strengths and failings. Roxana cares for her aging father with amazing grace. Yezad, who once dreamt of emigrating to Canada, tries valiantly to keep the cheer. And who wouldn't want to have Murad and Jehangir, two of the most amazing kids, as their own! There are many side players in the story-Daisy, who lives downstairs in Pleasant Villa, and who regales Nariman quite often with her violin. Also portrayed well is Mr. Vikram Kapur, Yezad's boss at Bombay Sporting Goods Emporium.
Mistry's love for his old city, Bombay, shines through loud and clear in the words of Mr. Kapur: "Bombay endures because it gives and it receives.
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