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Så lang en rejse (1991)

af Rohinton Mistry

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1,6202710,899 (3.9)110
Underfundig og farverig historie om en hårdtarbejdende bankfunktionær i Bombay. Ufrivilligt indblandes han i politiske intriger, men familiens fællesskab på godt og ondt bringer ham helskindet gennem problemerne.
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This is the lovely family story of a Mumbai Parsi family, father Gustad, mother Dilnavaz, and their three children, Sohrab, Darius, and Roshan. Gustad works in a bank, and over the course of the book the family goes through various family problems: Sohrab refuses to go to a prestigious technical college even though he has won a place there, opting instead for a liberal arts education; Darius is pursuing a girl from a family Gustad is feuding with; Roshan has been sick off and on with a mysterious illness. Then Gustad's friend Major Bilimoria asks him to do a favor which might involve him in some government corruption and illegalities.

This was Mistry's first book and it shows. I had high expectations after so recently rereading A Fine Balance, and this book definitely suffers in comparison. It sometimes wanders and feels without focus. Nevertheless, Gustad is a wonderful character, and I enjoyed visiting with this family a while. As a bonus there's a fair amount of information about the Parsi culture here. So it's a worthwhile read.

3 Stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Dec 31, 2023 |
Here's what I wrote in 2008 about this read: "Showcases the harshness and complexity of Indian family life in the early 70's. Life is hard there. Most memorable element: Gustad Noble's daughter, ill and struggling with from poor food, unhealthy water, and inadequate medicines." Interesting that you didn't comment on the political aspect of the novel and what, exactly, such a long journey? Life? ( )
  MGADMJK | Oct 19, 2022 |
Pales in comparison to his other better novels (but then again this was his first novel). Still a good read nonetheless, with props to Gustad Noble's sympathetic nature, hilarious accounts of life in a dusty India, set in the 60s-70s and the familiar heart wrenching, often wretched character plotlines that Mistry is (in)famous for. ( )
  georgeybataille | Jun 1, 2021 |

Update April 2016: I noticed, in connection with the banning of Naipaul's An Area of Darkness in India, that the University of Mumbai banned this book with alacrity upon the threat of violence from a rightwing political group looking for attention. All over the world free speech is being eroded in universities, ironically from both the left side of the divide and the right. It is something both sides apparently agree upon, that people should only be allowed to say what their side wants to hear. So in the end, what is the difference between a criminal group of thugs in India arguing for the banning of a book and those of quite a different political stance who recently fought to stop Germaine Greer, a noted public speaker and thinker for 50 years, from appearing on university soil?

You can find Mistry's own reaction to this here: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rohinton-mistry-protests-withdrawal-of-boo...

I quote from it:


“As for the grandson of the Shiv Sena leader, the young man who takes credit for the whole pathetic business, who admits to not having read the book, just the few lines that offend him and his bibliophobic brethren, he has now been inducted into the family enterprise of parochial politics, anointed leader of its newly minted “youth wing.” What can — what should — one feel about him? Pity, disappointment, compassion? Twenty years old, in the final year of a B.A. in history, at my own Alma Mater, the beneficiary of a good education, he is about to embark down the Sena's well-trodden path, to appeal, like those before him, to all that is worst in human nature.

“Does he have to? No. He is clearly equipped to choose for himself. He could lead, instead of following, the old regime. He could say something radical — that burning and banning books will not feed one hungry soul, will not house one homeless person nor will it provide gainful employment to anyone [unless one counts those hired to light bonfires], not in Mumbai, not in Maharashtra, not anywhere, not ever.

“He can think independently, and he can choose. And since he is drawn to books, he might want to read, carefully this time, from cover to cover, a couple that would help him make his choice. Come to think of it, the Vice-Chancellor, too, may find them beneficial. First, Conrad's Heart of Darkness, in order to consider the options: step back from the abyss, or go over the edge. Next, the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's Gitanjali. And I would urge particular attention to this verse: ‘Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; Where knowledge is free; Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;...Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake'.”

----------------------------

I know quite a bit about India in the period in which this is set - but only at a very micro, rural level. This is an urban middle-class story set against the backdrop of the period of war with Pakistan, a world I really only started discovering through Mistry's books. For the colour of life in the city, the stench of it, its cheapness, its noise, its horrifying poverty-strickenness, its cruelty, this book can be thoroughly recommended. To watch the small attempts to rise above these circumstances, to escape to something better is distressing...

rest here:

https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/such-a-long-journey-by-ro... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
A complex, fascinating family story with layered examinations of political corruption, violence, betrayals, scapegoating and more. I particularly enjoyed learning a bit more about life for India's Parsi minority, and thought this novel, written in the early 1990s about the early 1970s, was somewhat prescient in referencing the rise of Hindu nationalism in India. I intend to read all of Mistry's novels. ( )
  nmele | Nov 7, 2015 |
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He assembled the aged priests and put questions to them concerning the kings who had once possessed the world. 'How did they,' he inquired, 'hold the world in the beginning, and why is it that it has been left to us in such a sorry state? And how was it that they were able to live free or care during the days of their heroic labours?"

-Firdausi, Shah-Nama
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Just the worst time of year
For a journey, and such a long journey...

-T.S. Eliot, 'Journey of the Magi'
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That bloody Bilimoria. After the shameless way he had behaved, he had a nerve, writing now asking for a favour as if nothing had happened. He could wait till his dying day for a reply
he wished for all the nights in his sons' and daughter's lives to be filled with peace and tranquillity
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Underfundig og farverig historie om en hårdtarbejdende bankfunktionær i Bombay. Ufrivilligt indblandes han i politiske intriger, men familiens fællesskab på godt og ondt bringer ham helskindet gennem problemerne.

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