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Such a Long Journey [Paperback]

Rohinton Mistry
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 3 1997
It is Bombay in 1971, the year India went to war over what was to become Bangladesh. A hard-working bank clerk, Gustad Noble is a devoted family man who gradually sees his modest life unravelling. His young daughter falls ill; his promising son defies his father’s ambitions for him. He is the one reasonable voice amidst the ongoing dramas of his neighbours. One day, he receives a letter from an old friend, asking him to help in what at first seems like an heroic mission. But he soon finds himself unwittingly drawn into a dangerous network of deception. Compassionate, and rich in details of character and place, this unforgettable novel charts the journey of a moral heart in a turbulent world of change.

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Rohinton Mistry's fame has only increased with each of his novels, but his first remains his best. Such a Long Journey sees India's crisis with Pakistan in 1971 and the corruption of the Gandhi regime through the life of a Bombay bank clerk, with the attention to character and story that have made Mistry as popular a writer as he is admired.

From Publishers Weekly

Mistry, Bombay-born author of Swimming Lessons and Other Stories from Firozsha Baag , serves up an exotic feast with this novel. The year is 1971, and India is ready to pursue a war against Pakistan over the region that will become Bangladesh. This chaotic period is seen through the eyes of one Gustad Noble, a family man and Parsi bank clerk in Bombay. Gustad's fortunes have begun to change for the worse, with disappointments and bad luck sweeping through his previously secure way of life. When an old friend secretly recruits him to assist in a seemingly heroic mission under the aegis of Indira Gandhi's CIA-like operatives, he becomes enmeshed in a series of dangerous events, with tragic results. Mistry's prose displays the lightest of witty touches, and the narrative is often quite funny, particularly when it invites us inside the minds of the knowable, likable, somehow familiar men and women whose activities propel the plot. A writer of enormous range and shrewdness, Mistry delivers no manifesto, but an intelligent portrait of the corrupt aspects of Indira Gandhi's years in power. Throughout his byzantine scenario, he demonstrates empathy for and deep understanding of his characters. His novel evokes Rushdie in its denser, florid moments, and T. Coraghessan Boyle in its more madcap flights.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Noble Journey Nov. 2 2001
Rohinton Mistry's novel, Such a Long Journey, is an engrossing and provocative tale. The main character Gustad Noble is aptly named, for here is a man of true nobility--not by birth, but by his being, his determination, and his goodness. This novel is truly a journey, and Mistry takes us by the hand, guiding us into the unfamiliar cultural landscape of India, taking us along with Gustad and his family as they struggle with all the assaults of being human, as they strive to sustain their way of life on the verge of a changing, evolving society.
Mistry's characters are real; they're developed as individuals and they stand seperatly--from the main character Gustad Noble to his upstairs neighbor who barks, literally, at the moon. When one of many of Mistry's characters dances their way onto this carefully wrought stage, he or she envelopes the reader--we don't wait for this scene to finish in order to get to the meat of the matter--we relax, we sift slowly with the writing as we're there with each of the characters' struggles.
This is a book of enormity. This is a book that when finished, regret sets in. The last few pages dangle themselves out, and when the last word is read and the book closed, the reader has a sense that this one is special, that there aren't many like this one, and that it's too bad, really, that it's over.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Such a Long Journey, an Amazon purchase. May 3 2012
The story is fantastic, all Mistry's books are so well written in my opinion. He is a natural story teller but my feeling is this is what India is! A vast place, with a government that cannot cope with the distances or population numbers. His protagonist is trying his very best each day whilst a series of events work against him, or his way of life. I enjoyed this book immensely. Recommend 100%
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mistry Creates Realistic, Compelling Characters April 10 2000
By Samira
The characters in this novel are so realistic and captivating, you will feel to compelled follow their daily lives in this excellent, heart-warming story. Mistry provides insight into the thoughts and actions of a middle-class,hard-working Indian family man with such depth, and the descriptions of the settings are so accurate and detailed. Every character, minor or major, has a story of their own and we see both sides of each conflict. Truly a must-read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neither Pretentious nor Formulaic Nov. 28 2011
By Lorina Stephens TOP 500 REVIEWER
Rohinton Mistry's Such a Long Journey is one of those remarkable confluences of astonishingly beautiful writing, tightly crafted plot, and fully-developed characterization. The work is neither pretentious nor formulaic. And although there is no major crisis that takes place, no earth-shattering destruction of place or person, there is a sustained tension throughout the novel that keeps you reading, that draws you into the life of the main protagonist, Gustad Noble.

The novel is set during the rule of Indira Gandhi, and is a damning indictment of both her government and American foreign policy of the time. The journey is both a physical and metaphorical one, of Gustad's bedside visitation of a friend he thought had betrayed him, and of Gustad's eventual realization that there are few absolutes in life beyond that of death, that for every face there are a myriad of facets.

There are several subtle but poignant metaphors woven throughout this narrative, the most memorable being the character of Tehmul, who is a physically and mentally disabled man with the character of a boy, and it is this pull of the innocent versus the carnal that mirrors much of the political and social turmoil of the novel.
Although short-listed for the 1991 Booker Prize, Such a Long Journey was pulled from the University of Mumbai's English curriculum because of protests from the family of Hindu nationalist, Bal Thackeray - yet one more example in the world of unenlightened people nurturing fear-mongering.

I'd urge you to read Such a Long Journey. It is a story that will nestle in your psyche and remain.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read Dec 20 2001
This interesting first novel tackles several long journeys -- India's transformation from the raj to a brawling, corrupt, mismanaged, constantly at-war democracy under Indira Gandhi; Bombay resident Gustad Noble's economic decline from a kind of family prominence and prosperity under the Brits; and, most directly, Noble's rise in understanding, breadth of spirit, friendship, and accommodation to what India has become, warts and all.
Readers who delight in plot development may be disappointed. There are plots and subplots of sorts in this book -- will Noble's son reject a shot at an engineering degree? will his daughter regain her health? will a former neighbor, now in New Delhi, be found out as a good guy or a bad guy? will a prized homage to spirituality survive the wrecker's ball? will the bank manager learn the truth about some misguided deposits and spill the beans? will the simpleton get the, uh, girl? -- but, to me at least, these stories appear and drift away without careful crafting or much urgency in the telling. Rather, Mistry uses his plot lines more as opportunities to describe modern Indian society, in its complexity, and Noble's passage through it.
Mistry's central characters are full, interesting, and idiosyncratic. His minor characters -- the politically active prostitutes, the apartment dweller practicing the black arts, the bureaucrats and politicians, the speedtalking simpleton -- are persons we have seen before. Excellent political satire sometimes veers toward cartoons. Still, sentence by sentence, Mistry writes well and with sensitivity to his characters' inner lives.
This is not world-class fiction, but it is a good read, especially for persons with an international bent who are not put off by detail.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Journey short of a Fine Balance
Having read "A Fine Balance" first, which is a masterpiece, I was hoping for an equally enthralling novel. "Journey" is a great read no doubt about it. Read more
Published on May 23 2005
3.0 out of 5 stars A good debut
I read this book after I read "A Fine Balance", and it goes to show (happily) that Mistry's writing style has developed and become much more interesting. Read more
Published on March 9 2002 by Edward Aycock
4.0 out of 5 stars Such a Beautiful Read
Mistry is a modern author whose writing compares to author's of "the Great Books". Such a Long Journey gives a stunning idea of life during Indira Gandhi's reign. Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2002 by M. Harris
4.0 out of 5 stars A delight
I was told that Mistry's other novel, "A Fine Balance" is a far better book than "Such A Long Journey". Read more
Published on July 31 2001 by MR G. Rodgers
2.0 out of 5 stars Such A Long Waste Of My Time...
I found this book to be amazingly boring, not very captivating and hard to follow. The characters are developed too late in the novel and the storyline is blurred between all of... Read more
Published on July 5 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars A long jouney, but pleasant
Rohinton Mistry's first novel provides a door through which to step into the lives of a Parsi community in early 1970's Bombay. Read more
Published on Oct. 10 2000 by Alan Brown
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Dissapointing
When I read Mistry's " A Fine Balance" I was totally captivated by his story telling and cast of characters. This book however was very dissapointing. Read more
Published on Sept. 15 2000 by Narayan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
A gem of the book about the trials and tribulations of the ordinary folk in India. This is also an intelligent commantary on Indira Gandhi's India
Published on March 16 2000 by Vali Nasr
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