You may not have actually read his works, but unless you were living under a rock, you must have had the name ‘Rohinton Mistry’ come up in the course of your reading or conversations. Rohinton Mistry is counted amongst the most celebrated contemporary Indian origin authors in the world, some have even gone so far as to describe his works as ‘Dickensian” His novel, ‘A fine balance’, a highly nuanced tale of four protagonists from completely diverse backgrounds, being thrown together by circumstances unfolding against the backdrop of the emergency has delighted readers and critics alike. The book published in 1995 won multiple literary awards including the ‘‘The common wealth writers prize , ‘Los Angeles Times book prize for fiction’ and the ‘The Giller prize’. It was also shortlisted for the 1996 booker prize. But though ‘A fine balance’ was the book that catapulted him to fame, and got his name into mainstream newspapers and quizzes on general knowledge, it was by no means his first success as an author. His first book, a collection of short stories titled ‘Tales from Ferozshah Bagh’, which written while he was studying at the University of Toronto was already creating a buzz in the literary world. His very first novel, ‘Such a Long Journey’, won the Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction, the Commonwealth Writer's Award for Best Book of the Year, amongst others, and was also, nominated for the Man Booker Prize, thus cementing his position as an influential contender in the international literary scene
Today, Rohinton Mistry is an inspiration to aspiring authors all over India. But what was it, that shaped his career as an author, and more importantly why does his story matter to us? Let’s find out! Rohinton Mistry is an Indian-born Canadian author. He was born in Mumbai in 1952 and after attending school at St Xavier's School, he went on to complete his BA in Mathematics and Economics from St Xavier's College in Mumbai. After completing his under graduation the most natural course of action for him would have been to take up further studies in mathematics or economics and take up a job in those lines. However, he chose to go to Canada, mainly to be with his girlfriend, Freny Eliva, whom he later married. In Canada he initially started to work as a clerk in a bank, ‘The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce’. For all external accounts, his life was ‘settled’. He got a job, got married and went abroad, thus satisfying the triumvirate of middle-class Indian expectations, and this is where the story would end for most people, but not for Mistry.
Not long after he began to work at the Bank, he began to hear ‘the siren call of the muse’. He took up a course of BA in English and philosophy at the University of Toronto in Canada. It was at this juncture in his life, when he was a student at the university, that Rohinton Mistry first saw himself as a writer. he was successful immigrant writer.The seeds were probably sown long ago for his writing career. When he was a young school boy he was a voracious reader, reading books by Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie and others. This early reading and also his life in Mumbai have greatly influenced his works, but one can’t help but wonder if he would have altered his career path and go on to become a world-famous author if he hadn’t taken that momentous step towards emigrating. It’s a universal truth, that moving out of your city, your country, your boundaries and your comfort level, helps to broaden your horizons, allows you to get away from your beaten path and create for yourself, what seems impossible. This truth cannot be more beautifully illustrated than in the life of Rohinton Mistry!