Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey is one of those remarkable junctions of astonishingly beautiful writing, firmly crafted plot and fully-established characterization. The work is neither ostentatious nor formulaic. Even though there is no major crisis that takes place, no shattering destruction of place or person, there is an ongoing tension throughout the novel that keeps you attached, 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 presentment of her government.The novel is satirical, melodramatic, and exhilarating,, yet its sentimental trappings disguise an unexpected cynicism. Although Rohinton Mistry’s fictions do not overtly deal with the political scene, this novel lucidly satirizes the corruption, politics, and legacy of Indira Gandhi’s government. The novel jots the story of Gustad Noble, a Parsi gentleman, a devoted Bank worker, a doting yet intensely misunderstood father, an unfortunate victim of a road accident, and a weak man with high morals and principles. Rohinton introduces the hereticism of Gustad one by one, weaving a story around the banal existence of a middle class family, during the strained atmosphere of Indo-Pak war, in the early 1970s. Rohinton Mistry uses “ordinary” men and women as his protagonists and amples his novels with the visions, notes, essence, and colors of India. Depicting his characters as neither good or evil, he involves the reader in their lives as they try to survive the complexities of their culture.
The novel appealed to me and depressed me in almost equal breadths. Rohinton’s masterly approach towards illness and death, his heart-touching detailed description of the last rites and his deep rooted understanding of human emotions touched a chord in my heart. But, at the very next moment, I was disappointed with his non-veg jokes, lengthy descriptions of slaughter of animals. Inspite of all its shortcomings and off-hand remarks, there was some irresistible appeal in this novel, that kept me adhered to it till the very end. It is indeed a unique novel in its approach, setting and language, and is sure to twitch a strange reaction from your deepest core. I just admire the novel for its recurring symbolism and the round about approach of divulging a carefully wrapped secret.A forbidden saga laden with some magic button!
I’d promt you to read Such a Long Journey. It is a story that will nestle in your mind and remain.