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Family Matters: A Novel
     

Family Matters: A Novel

3.8 23
by Rohinton Mistry
 

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Family Matters is Rohinton Mistry’s eagerly anticipated third novel, following the success of his highly acclaimed A Fine Balance (1995), which won several major literary awards internationally.

This new novel takes us to Bombay in the mid-1990s. Nariman Vakeel is a seventy-nine-year-old Parsi widower and the patriarch of a small

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Family Matters 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mystery has here again captured the life of contemporary Bombay Parsi's torn between the old and new traditions and necessities. Nari, the 87 year old patriarch who breaks his ankle is the fulcrum of this tale. He is living with his step daughter and son who remember and are cursed by his relationship with their Parsi mother whom he was forced to marry after her widowhood to keep his family in order instead of the forbidden Christian woman, Lucy, from Goa whom he loved and his family refused even though she would not give him up. In thier small community they all saw each other daily. Nari was willing to give in to his new wife, but Lucy waited outside of his window daily singing songs from their past. And she dramatically threatened to throw herself off the roof of their apartment building on a regular basis. Nari's wife was jealous and furious. She took his clothes so that he must meet Lucy in the street clothed only in a towel. Finally, she confronted Lucy on the ledge of the building from where she threatened to dive and for reasons unknown they both fell to their death with Nari not succeeding in saving either. Nari lived for years with his three children in a flat in Chateau Felicity until his youngest daughter married. He gave her and her new husband a small apartment in Pleasant Apartments. They have two sons. Too soon Nari found himself 87 and retired from the University under the care of his two half-children, Coomy and Jal, who see him as a burden in his own home. One night Nari slips on his evening walk and breaks his ankle. He must have four weeks of bed rest. After three days his step-children, Choomy and Jal can't stand the work and the smell of his bed pan. They decide that their younger sister, Nari's full child, Roxane should take over the job even though she lives in a two room apartment. Roxane takes in her father with joy and cares for him. Nari hates to be a burden, but the grandchildren Murad and Ja help him with the generosity and good cheer. But, Roxana's husband Yesad finds having Nari in the small apartment an emotional and financial burden. Money is tight in the house and the rooms are small. Tempers rage. Temptations come. Coomy indulges in foolish schemes to keep Nari out of his apartment. She decides to destroy the plaster ceiling of his bedroom and to call in a neighbor in the building to fix it. This fixing leads to the death of both of them. Over the course of sacrificing to maintain Nari even Yesad learns to care for him and is drawn to the Parsi faith. The story resolves itself in a beautiful, yet ironic manner. This is a real tale of contemporary Parsis in India. Their practical and religious concerns are honestly discussed. The story ends with new dilemmas beginning.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have yet to pass up a Rohinton Mistry book. His writing style is illuminating, REAL, and captivating. He has absolutely NO EQUAL in modern-day storytellers. In this book, as in all his others, his characters are never lacking in explanation or description, and the way he weaves the story is fascinating. I couldn't put it down...never knowing when the classic "Mistry Tragedy" would occur. He is such a wonderful, poetic, and reality-based author!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finished this book late last night. It completely pulls you and captures you into the story. RM's prose captures every little detail of life which we so easily take for granted....and then gives it back! Very very delightful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved A Fine Balance, absolutely adored it and is one of my favorite books of all time and so I went into Family Matters expecting maybe not an equally great story but one that at least matched up. A Fine balance had a Parsi touch to it but Family Matters was overloaded with the Parsi religion. And although that is not a bad thing, it was completely not what I expected. It seemed like a motivation book to go back to being a good practicing parsi. The book was wonderfully written but the story line was not at all interesting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Of all the Indian novelists writing today, yes Rushdie included, Mistry truly has no peer. His latest novel shows why the comparisons to Dickens and Austen are not misplaced. I grew up in Bombay and lived there through college, and my love for that lively city has never waned. Mistry's elegant, elegaic prose provides the truest description of Bombay life that I have ever encountered. This book is a must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book a couple of weeks ago and found it very illuminating. The book is as much a poem for a Bombay, long gone, as it is about Nariman Vakeel and his family. As an Indian and Bombayite, I found this book to one of the best I have read in a while.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just returned from India where this book has been released. Could not put it down. As usual, RM captures the little things in everyday life and makes them interesting as only Jane Austen could do.
pmrbooks More than 1 year ago
family in Mumbai struggle to care for their aging father ,some don't want to others find it all consuming ..the feel of the book is that you are right there the depth of character is spot on ...the social cast of the people play deeply into the novel
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The patriarch of a Parsi (Persian) family living in modern day Bombay, who suffers from Parkinson's, breaks his ankle. Until then, he lived in a reasonably spacious 7-room home with his resentful adult stepchildren, but after the accident they cannot stand being saddled with his care. So they pack him up and ship him off to be cared for by their step-sister, in a cramped, two-room flat that she shares with her husband and two young sons. Through the voices of several main characters, Mistry shows what happens to a family that is pushed to the very edge, financially, emotionally, and spiritually. He also paints a vivid picture of an unfair caste system in India and how it tears into the moral and social fabric of families and the greater community, and of a corrupt government. I'll admit this particular book was a bit heavier than most of my reading fare, and I had to stop several times because of the overwhelming depressing nature of the situation. But then after catching my breath, I would always pick it up again, partly because I came to care so much for the characters, but also because it shamed me that to get away from such a tense, stressful existence, I needed only to set the story aside.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This writer will always be someone I will read. Even if his novels are sometimes painfully realistic about squalid living conditions, bodily functions and nasty odors, they are so worth reading. Beautifully done, as usual.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked this book better than Mistry's A Fine Balance because Family Matters is less melodramatic, less preachy and more realistic. Each of the characters rang true and I experienced each one's pain and joy. My only compaint is that Mistry is determined to leave lives unresolved, as in real life. Is that a Parsi ideal, to accept one's fate without questioning it? I don't know.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was alright, but failed to keep me interested like his previous book, 'A Fine Balance'. I found myself unsatisfied by most of the characters and the storyline was disappointing as well.