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Rohinton Mistry Biography

Rohinton Mistry

Rohinton Mistry – An Indian-born Canadian Writer

Rohinton Mistry is an Indian-born Canadian writer. He is originally from India, but currently resides in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. He belongs to the minority Parsi community and practices Zoroastrianism.

Rohinton Mistry was born on July 3, 1952 in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. He graduated from the University of Mumbai with a degree in BA in Mathematics and Economics. In 1975, he immigrated to Canada with his wife Freny Elavia, and settled in Toronto where he studied at the University of Toronto and acquired a BA in English and Philosophy degree.

Rohinton won two Hart House literary prizes (he was the first to win two) at the University of Toronto, for stories published in the Hart House Review and Canadian Fiction Magazine’s annual Contributor’s Prize for 1985. Afterwards, with the aid of a Canada Council grant, he left his job to become a full-time writer.

After three years, Penguin Books Canada published his collection of eleven short stories as Tales from Firozsha Baag. Later, it was published in the U.S. as Swimming Lessons and Other Stories from Firozsha Baag.

In 1991, his second book, Such a Long Journey, was published. It’s the story of a Bombay bank clerk who unwittingly becomes involved in a fraud committed by the government in the 1970’s. The novel won the Governor General’s Award, the W.H. Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Overall Winner, Best Book. The book was also shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize and the Trillium Award. The book was translated into German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Japanese Languages and has also been made into a film. It was adapted for the 1998 film of the same name.

In 1995, he came out with his third book and second novel, A Fine Balance, set during the state of Emergency in India in the 1970s and critically Mistry’s most successful work till date. The novel won the second annual Giller Prize in 1995 and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction in 1996. In November 2001, the book was selected for Oprah’s Book Club and sold thousands of additional copies throughout North America. It also won the 1996 Commonwealth Writers Prize and was short listed for the 1996 Booker prize.

His book Family Matters (2002), which tells the story of an elderly Parsi widower living in Bombay with his step-children in the 1990’s was shortlisted for the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

In 2008, Mistry came out with a short fiction book, The Scream which was published as a separate volume in support of World Literacy of Canada, with illustrations by Tony Urquhart. Rohinton Mistry’s books represent the diverse aspect of Indian socio-economic life, customs and religion. Many of Mistry’s writings are marked “Indo-nostalgic” and his literary papers are kept in the Clara Thomas Archives at York University. In 2012, Mistry got a Neustadt International Prize for Literature laureate and was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize.