Rohinton Mistry

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Rohinton Mistry
BornRohinton Mistry
(1952-07-03) 3 July 1952 (age 68)
Bombay, India
Alma materUniversity of Bombay
University of Toronto
GenreHistorical fiction, Postcolonial Literature, Realism, Parsi Literature Minor Literature Indian literature
Notable worksSuch a Long Journey; Family Matters; A Fine Balance
SpouseFreny Elavia

Rohinton Mistry CM (born 3 July 1952) is an Indian-born Canadian writer. He was awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2012.

Early life and education[edit]

Rohinton Mistry was born in 1952 in Bombay, India, to a Parsi family.[1] His brother is the playwright and author Cyrus Mistry. He earned a BA in Mathematics and Economics from St. Xavier's College, Bombay.[2]

He emigrated to Canada with his wife-to-be Freny Elavia in 1975 and they married shortly afterwards.[3] Mistry studied at the University of Toronto and received a BA in English and Philosophy.[4] He worked in a bank for a while, before returning to studies, leading up to a degree in English and philosophy.[5]


While attending the University of Toronto (Woodsworth College) he won two Hart House literary prizes (the first to win two), for stories which were published in the Hart House Review, and Canadian Fiction Magazine's annual Contributor's Prize for 1985.

Three years later, Penguin Books Canada published his collection of 11 short stories, Tales from Firozsha Baag. It was later published in the United States as Swimming Lessons and Other Stories from Firozsha Baag.[6] The book consists of 11 short stories, all set within one apartment complex in modern-day Bombay. This volume contains the oft-anthologized story, "Swimming Lessons."

His second book, the novel Such a Long Journey, was published in 1991. It won the Governor General's Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, and the W.H. Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award.[6] It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and for the Trillium Award. It has been translated into German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Japanese. It was adapted for the 1998 film Such a Long Journey. The content of the book caused a controversy at Mumbai University in 2010 due to the abusive and crass language against Bal Thackeray, leader of Shiv Sena, a political party from Maharashtra, as well as discriminatory and derogatory remarks about Maharashtrians.[7] The book was prescribed for the second year Bachelor of Arts (English) in 2007–08 as an optional text, according to University sources. Later, Dr. Rajan Welukar, University of Mumbai's Vice-Chancellor (V-C) used the emergency powers in the Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994, to withdraw the book from the syllabus.[8]

His third book, and second novel, A Fine Balance (1995), won the second annual Giller Prize in 1995, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction in 1996. It was selected for Oprah's Book Club[9] in November 2001 and sold hundreds of thousands of additional copies throughout North America as a result. It won the 1996 Commonwealth Writers Prize and was shortlisted for the 1996 Booker prize.[10]

Family Matters (2002) is a consideration of the difficulties that come with ageing, to which topic Mistry returned in 2008 with the short fiction The Scream (published as a separate volume, in support of World Literacy of Canada, with illustrations by Tony Urquhart). Mistry's books portray diverse facets of Indian socioeconomic life, as well as Parsi Zoroastrian life, customs, and religion. Many of his writings are markedly "Indo-nostalgic".

His literary papers are housed at the Clara Thomas Archives at York University.

In 2002, Mistry cancelled his United States book tour for his novel Family Matters after he and his wife were targeted by security agents at every airport he visited.[11][12]



Short stories and chapbooks

  • Tales from Firozsha Baag (1987), also published as Swimming Lessons and Other Stories from Firozsha Baag (1989)
  • Searching for Stevenson (1994)
  • The Scream (2006)

Awards and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ Gupta, Nidhi (January 2014). "The Making of the Novelist: Rohinton Mistry" (PDF). MIT International Journal of English Language & Literature. 1 (1): 1.
  2. ^ "St. Xavier's College alumni write open letter opposing invitation to Aditya Thackeray to attend college event". Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  3. ^ Angela Lambert, "Touched with fire" The Guardian 27 April 2002
  4. ^ "The Man Booker Prize". The Man Booker Prize. Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  5. ^ "Rohinton Mistry - Literature". Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b Malieckal, Bindu (2000). "Rohinton Mistry". In Nelson, Emmanuel Sampath (Ed.), Asian American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, pp. 219–28. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-30911-6.
  7. ^ "The Relevant Passages". Outlook India. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  8. ^ Burke, Jason (19 October 2010). "Mumbai University drops Rohinton Mistry novel after extremists complain". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  9. ^ New, William H. (2003). A History of Canadian Literature, (3d ed.), p. 326. McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-2597-1.
  10. ^ Faber and Faber paperback edition 1997
  11. ^ "Author is singled out, but not in a good way". SFGate. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Author cancels US tour over 'profiling'". BBC. 3 November 2002. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  13. ^ Rohinton Mistry wins Neustadt Prize 2012 – "Parsi Khabar"
  14. ^ Critically acclaimed Indian-Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry wins 2012 Neustadt International Prize for LiteratureWorld Literature Today
  15. ^ "Order of Canada Appointments". The Governor General of Canada His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston. Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 31 December 2015.

External links[edit]