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4.2 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2000
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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on July 31, 2001
I was told that Mistry's other novel, "A Fine Balance" is a far better book than "Such A Long Journey". If so, I'm looking foward to reading that one, because I thoroughly enjoyed "Such A Long Journey".
I novel centres on the Mumbai Parsi, Gustad Noble. He and his family have seen better days and are now struggling to get by in 1970s Mumbai. Gustad becomes involved with a scheme run by the mysterious Jimmy Bilimoria - what is the meaning of this, and how will it turn out?
Apart from this mystery, the main delight of the novel is how Mistry weaves the central plot into a kaleidoscope of descriptions of life in Mumbai. I have Parsi friends, so I was not completely at sea with the descriptions Mistry uses. Yet, his account of the Parsi funeral ceremony culminating at the Tower of Silence was both moving and intriguing (for those not familiar with Parsi funeral rights, it's scarcely believable, but nonetheless true).
It was Sartre, I think, who said that "hell is other people". Mistry doesn't go as far as that, but he does give the impression of an India teeming with life, full of people invading each others' space. As such, coping with this becomes a daily chore - others are both invasive of privacy and frequently unreliable when you depend on them. And yet, that is only part of being human - for all their faults, most if not all people have redeeming characteristics.
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on October 10, 2000
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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on December 11, 1998
I picked up this book after hearing about A Fine Balance. Being a Parsi myself, I am always interested in seeing how they are characterized in novels or movies. Mistry writes with an honest perspective, neither hypercritical or hyper-adulatory. His sense of detail creates wonderfully layered characters; and his knowledge of the customs and even the crazy idiosyncrasies of the Parsi community made me feel like we were in on a private joke. Of course, non-Parsis will like the book also--they just won't appreciate Mistry's dry wit.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 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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on January 15, 2002
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. Besides the cultural lesson on India you receive from reading this book, you also come away with the struggles of loyalty a man faces with friendship and family. This book is not as engaging as A Fine Balance, but a wonderful read nonetheless.
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on May 23, 2005
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. Funny in parts, sad in others. I do highly recommend it. If you haven't read "Balance", you'll love this book..if you've read "Balance" you will just really enjoy this novel. Still, it is a must read !
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on April 27, 1999
mistry's first novel is a beautifully crafted, well-engineed tale of life in bombay. we are given characters to cherish and cheer for as we are taken through the daily rituals of life in india. i quite enjoyed the remarkable debut by a promising canadian author...
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on July 8, 1999
Very interesting account of Parsee and Indian culture and everyday struggles of a common man in a society replete with traditions and supersitions. I loved the believe or not to believe, that is the question!
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on January 7, 1998
I read this book after reading A Fine Balance and therefore am probably unfairly judging it. It doesn't have the depth and character development of the latter, but is a good first novel.
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