Such a Long Journey

Such a Long Journey

by Rohinton Mistry

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It is Bombay in 1971, the year India went to war over what was to become Bangladesh. A hard-working bank clerk, Gustad Noble is a devoted family man who gradually sees his modest life unravelling. His young daughter falls ill; his promising son defies his father’s ambitions for him. He is the one reasonable voice amidst the ongoing dramas of his neighbours. One day, he receives a letter from an old friend, asking him to help in what at first seems like an heroic mission. But he soon finds himself unwittingly drawn into a dangerous network of deception. Compassionate, and rich in details of character and place, this unforgettable novel charts the journey of a moral heart in a turbulent world of change.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307773012
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/03/2010
Series: Vintage International
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 697,882
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Rohinton Mistry was born in Bombay and now lives near Toronto.  Such a Long Journey was his first novel.  His second, A Fine Balance, was a winner of Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Fiction, the Giller Prize, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, as well as a Booker Prize finalist.  He is also the author of Swimming Lessons, a collection of short stories.


Toronto, Canada

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

Bombay, India


B. S. in mathematics and economics, University of Bombay; B.A. in English and philosophy, University of Toronto, 1983

Read an Excerpt

The first light of morning barely illumined the sky as Gustad Noble faced eastward to offer his orisons to Ahura Mazda. The hour was approaching six, and up in the compound’s solitary tree the sparrows began to call. Gustad listened to their chirping every morning while reciting his kusti prayers. There was something reassuring about it. Always, the sparrows were first; the cawing of crows came later.

From a few flats away, the metallic clatter of pots and pans began nibbling at the edges of stillness. The bhaiya sat on his haunches beside the tall aluminium can and dispensed milk into the vessels of housewives. His little measure with its long, hooked handle dipped into the container and emerged, dipped and emerged, rapidly, with scarcely a drip. After each customer was served, he let the dipper hang in the milk can, adjusted his dhoti, and rubbed his bare knees while waiting to be paid. Flakes of dry dead skin fell from his fingers. The women blenched with disgust, but the tranquil hour and early light preserved the peace.

Gustad Noble eased his prayer cap slightly, away from the wide forehead with its numerous lines, until it settled comfortably on his grey-­white hair. The black velvet of the cap contrasted starkly with his cinereous sideburns, but his thick, groomed moustache was just as black and velvety. Tall and broad-­shouldered, Gustad was the envy and admiration of friends and relatives whenever health or sickness was being discussed. For a man swimming the tidewater of his fifth decade of life, they said, he looked so solid. Especially for one who had suffered a serious accident just a few years ago; and even that left him with nothing graver than a slight limp. His wife hated this kind of talk. Touch wood, Dilnavaz would say to herself, and look around for a suitable table or chair to make surreptitious contact with her fingers. But Gustad did not mind telling about his accident, about the day he had risked his own life to save his eldest.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Mistry is a writer of considerable achievement.…Patiently and with loving humour, [he] develops a portrait and draws his people with such care and understanding that their trials become our tragedies.”

“A seamless, gracefully written trek through a rocky period in one man’s life.…A rewarding literary excursion.”

“This fine first novel demonstrates the bright-hard reality of India’s middle class.…Mistry is a singular pleasure to read, and his description of India is a lucid, living account.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“A passionate embracing of life in all its manifestations.”
Books in Canada

“A rich, humane work, undoubtedly one of the best novels about India in recent years.”
The Spectator (U.K.)

“The world of Such a Long Journey is vivid, lively, and comic – a rich and richly recreated setting.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“Fascinating.…Mistry manages to convey a vivid picture of India through sharp affectionate sketches of Indian family life and a gift for erotic satire.”
New York Times Book Review

“A highly poised and accomplished work.”
The Observer (U.K.)

Customer Reviews

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Such a Long Journey 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Usually I'm not a fan of novels like this. For every SUCH A LONG JOURNEY (not to mention MY FATHER'S EYES, of course) there are a dozen pretentious psychobabble productions. This is worth the time and effort. Maybe because it's set in a differnt time and less navel-gazing society than ours.
Guest More than 1 year ago
good book
fiverivers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rohinton Mistry¿s Such a Long Journey is one of those remarkable confluences of astonishingly beautiful writing, tightly crafted plot, and fully-developed characterization. The work is neither pretentious nor formulaic. And although there is no major crisis that takes place, no earth-shattering destruction of place or person, there is a sustained tension throughout the novel that keeps you reading, that draws you into the life of the main protagonist, Gustad Noble.The novel is set during the rule of Indira Gandhi, and is a damning indictment of both her government and American foreign policy of the time. The journey is both a physical and metaphorical one, of Gustad¿s bedside visitation of a friend he thought had betrayed him, and of Gustad¿s eventual realization that there are few absolutes in life beyond that of death, that for every face there are a myriad of facets. There are several subtle but poignant metaphors woven throughout this narrative, the most memorable being the character of Tehmul, who is a physically and mentally disabled man with the character of a boy, and it is this pull of the innocent versus the carnal that mirrors much of the political and social turmoil of the novel.Although short-listed for the 1991 Booker Prize, Such a Long Journey was pulled from the University of Mumbai¿s English curriculum because of protests from the family of Hindu nationalist, Bal Thackeray ¿ yet one more example in the world of unenlightened people nurturing fear-mongering.I¿d urge you to read Such a Long Journey. It is a story that will nestle in your psyche and remain.
wbwilburn5 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great reread. I live my Indian life through these books.
siafl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
With nice narratives and superb touches, and very often humourous anecdotes, the book has a lot of merits. However, something happened - I don't quite know what - towards the end that caused the book to lose its grip on my attention. I merely skimmed through to the end the final chapters, and when done, thought that it had left me wishing for, perhaps, a little more depth. Maybe it was because of the filthy images it created in my mind that I wished to be done with this book sooner, which I suppose would be the very thing driving me out of India if I do have the misfortune to end up stuck in that place one day. Shudder.
michiy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A lovely book. A lovely story. It has the makings of a classic. Simply told, fragrant without being frilly.
oddvark59 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very well written. Very interesting story by one of the greatest living writers of fiction.
RobinDawson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rohinton is an outstanding storyteller and writer. His characters are so vivid and human. He cherishes each one and their story stays with me for such a long time.
Clara53 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is human drama of the most poignant variety. It starts as a family drama but then gradually encompasses the neighborhood and, you can say, the whole country. As a family drama, it is sure to resonate with any family in any country, one could relate to it on a very personal level. As a sociopolitical drama, it brings to harsh light the inadequacies and faults of Indian politics and society. When I was in India in 1970s (the time described in the book) I saw things from a very different perspective - politically and socially, plus I was too young to understand anything in a proper way. So this novel opened my eyes on a lot of things. The story begins with the protagonist Gustad Noble, a Parsi (a minority in India), finding himself in such emotional turmoil that the saying "When it rains in pours" would be perfect to describe the situation. The turmoil escalates with every page and reaches a powerful denouement at the end of the book - a climax that is not just a family drama any more but something much, much larger. Rohinton Mistry is a very talented writer whose other novel, "A Fine Balance" made an great impression on me. "Such a Long Journey" may not be of the same caliber, but it's still a very worthy read.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I am an avid reader and found this book hard to put down...from beginning to end this book ensnares you and keep you wanting to read more.....Rohinto Mistry gives the reader humor, sadness, variety and a look at middle class India....totally enjoyable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book is Rohington Mistry's best book to date.It tells us the story of a simple Indian family which for all practical purposes could be any Indian Family and it takes us along with the protoganist Gustad Noble and his family on a long journey filled with numerous ups and downs and it also tells us how the protoganist like a lot of us eventually comes to terms with the reality and learns to live with it. Really an exceptional book.