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Family Matters

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  16,242 Ratings  ·  719 Reviews
This story centres on a 79-year-old Parsi widower named Nariman who lives with his stepson and stepdaughter. Nariman's wife died many years before, leaving behind the two children from her first marriage and the daughter, Roxanna, they had together.
Unknown Binding, 487 pages
Published December 31st 2001 by Faber & Faber
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Non-Winners of the Man Booker
45th out of 210 books — 178 voters
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We are family.
7th out of 38 books — 3 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nov 04, 2015 Seemita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all those with a heartbeat left.
The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.
Flipping through the pages, my heart leapt many times; those waves bearing the ring of countenance were from still stream but the ones with ripples of accusation roared thunder. Accusation? Accusation hurled towards whom? The fictional characters delicately brought to life by the stinging brush of the author or the guilty, manipulative, egocentric, conceited character of mine? Did my fingers pause typing these words defining myself? T
Nov 10, 2015 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
UPDATE....Nov. 17th ...Completed Book....Completed Review (STAGE 2)

This is my first book by Robinton Mistry. ( a dangerous novel to begin at 1am). Thankfully, the prior five hours sleep sustained me for another 5 hours. At which point,
I had to drift off again for a little more morning sleep.
Note: Today is Friday, Nov. 6th. (Hmmm, our daughter's 30th birthday)...
"FAMILY MATTERS". .....( see, I couldn't resist 'not' thinking of 'family')

I was inspired to read this from having read *Seemita's* re
May 19, 2011 Praj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As Nariman counts his last breaths amid the serene violin rendition of Brahms Lullaby, played by Daisy, my mind races through a gloomy apartment where the stale odor of eau de cologne amalgamates in the air of misery thriving among the bustling of outside traffic and noisy vendors trying to earn their daily wage unaware of Nariman’s existence. The acridity of my parched throat makes me think about my death. Will I die as a happy soul or will death be a gift that I would crave in the course of vu ...more
Aug 17, 2012 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Curious, he thought, how, if you knew a person long enough, he could elicit every kind of emotion from you, every possible reaction, envy, admiration, pity, irritation, fury, fondness, jealousy, love, disgust. But in the end all human beings became candidates for compassion, all of us, without exception...and if we could recognize this from the
beginning, what a saving in pain and grief and misery..."

This thought from Yezad (ch 17) sums up his moment of insight in this teeming story of generati
Jan 09, 2011 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india
This book did for me what Suketu Mehta's "Bombay. Maximum City" couldn't - I could see, smell and feel the mega-city throughout the pages of this both realistic and nostalgic novel. I suppose that also my unability to throrouhghly enjoy non-fiction plays a role in this, I just need characters and plot to stay interested through a thick volume and Mistry provides both in a masterly way. Bombay and his protagonist's love and hate for the rotting and still lovely and lively place is one of the topi ...more
Nov 06, 2007 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absolutely anyone
I usually feel a little bit of glow after finishing any book. I have the bad habit of calling every book I just finished "my favorite" -- until I finish the next one. But in this case, I really must stress that Family Matters is one of the best books I have ever read. I never re-read books, but this is one of those rare gems that even I want to return to.

If you took all of Shakespeare's tragedies, condensed them into a story about one family, and set it in Bombay in the 1990s, this book would b
ETA: The only reason I originally gave this three rather than two stars was that:

1. it accurately describes the deplorable way we today deal with old age and sickness in MANY countries of the world, and

2. not all blame was heaped on the government. People are who they are and unfortunately we often fail in coping with sick and/or elderly in our own family.

The book was realistic. In its realism I found it terribly depressing.


All I can say is that this book made me
Paul Bryant
Nov 04, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, india
What, I didn't review Family Matters? Okay, here is the review :

Rohinton Mistry -

three novels, three five star ratings


Sonia Gomes
Mar 18, 2016 Sonia Gomes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: fantastic, india
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 20, 2008 Craig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4.5/5

This book is not surprisingly about a family. More specifically, it follows three generations of a Parsi family living in modern Mumbai (formerly Bombay). As the grandfather of the family, Nariman is likely the best candidate to be declared the main character of this novel, but it is truly and ensemble cast, with Nariman's step children Jal and Coomy, his daugther and son-in-law Roxanna and Yezda and his grandchildren Janghela and Murad all playing important roles.

This is an exquisi
Just arrived from Israel through BM.

This is the first book written by Rohinton Mistry that I've read and I really liked it.

The story is about the family of Nariman Vakeel, a 79 year old Parsi widower who suffers from Parkinson's disease. To worsen his physical health, he ends breaking his ankle, getting unable thus of getting around. Even living with his step-children, Coomy and Jal, they weren't able to take good care of their father.

By forcing the circumstances, Nariman is forced to move to th
aPriL does feral sometimes
I liked this book after awhile, but initially, one of the characters, Coomy, irritated me so much I almost quit. Although the story is about a Mumbai family of Parsi's, and there are many Indian cultural-specific foods, religious customs and words mentioned, I felt this is a universal story about all affectionate, middle-class families. But on the other hand, the universality reminded me of the claustrophobic and eternal familial struggles of all human family life, which affect most families thr ...more
Eric Wright

Mistry transports us into the life of a struggling Parsi couple in Mumbai/Bombay. It is full of pathos and realism. His language graphically conjures up the characters, a tiny apartment, the marital tensions, the feelings of two young boys, the stresses of trying to cope with too little money and a naive employer, and particularly the deterioration in the health of the grandfather.

Nariman Vakeel is a 79 year old widower forces by circumstances and parents to reject his true love and marry withi
Diane S ☔
May 30, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The one thing that is common to all cultures is the difficulties in taking care of our aged parents or other family members. So from the beginning this story really hit home, basically had something similar to this happen in my husband's family, although I felt this was a bit exaggerated. The characters were all well drawn, even the characters on the sidelines were interesting and the two young boys won my heart. It definitely showed the effects and strain on everyone in the family and even when ...more
Julia Grundling
Feb 18, 2014 Julia Grundling rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
beautiful, beautiful and again - beautiful. what an amazing book !!

'a fine balance' by the same author is also on my top list, and i'm so glad this one made it there as well.

i simply don't have enough words to explain this book ... just read it ... now ... :)
David Cerruti
Aug 31, 2014 David Cerruti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Garima
Shelves: favorites, india
There is more to the title than first meets the eye. Is it family MATTERS? Or is it FAMILY matters? The meaning of “matters” evolves as the story progresses. Mistry discusses this, and much more, in a 51 minute interview for WAMU, on Sept. 30, 2002.

That interview was part of the book tour that, unfortunately, occurred too soon after 9-11. According to a November 3, 2002 BBC report: “Canadian author, Rohinton Mistry, has cancelled the second half of his US
Jul 17, 2007 Brinda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took me a while to get into this one -- but once I was in, it was quite a remarkable read. Mistry spins a tale about Bombay through the story of one family undergoing dramatic yet completely plausible, at times quiet, ordinary events. Mistry is not trying to wow anyone through crash-boom-bang events, yet even in its subtlety this story had a Shakespearean sense of tragedy and betrayal and loss -- not just for the family, but for a city whose beauty and vibrance was contantly underscored by corru ...more
Stella  ☢FAYZ☢ Chen
A very slow novel that contain heart-felt moments and funny little devious schemes.

Thia book, as I found out through my English teacher, has deeper meaning than just family. WHY CAN'T SOMETHING JUST BE SIMPLE. WHY MUST I OVER-ANALYSE THIS?
Aug 15, 2012 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a big fat Dickensian story set in India. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost my taste for big fat Dickensian stories. I enjoyed the book, but not excessively. What I found most interesting was the insight into family life, attitudes and restrictions. And how much American pop culture has infiltrated India. It was interesting to see how they hopped back and forth between English and various Indian languages. The book would have benefited from a glossary, though. If I had known what some of ...more
Aug 09, 2015 Vaidya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After all, what is happiness? And how much can houses contain them? How is it that houses that have growing children are so lively and the moment they end up teenagers the balance shifts to uneasiness? What about happiness in houses that have sick elderly and them having to be put up with and taken care of? How you can perceive the same situation with love, with adventure and growing despair & turn to religion based on what you are: a child, a loving daughter or the person struggling to hold ...more
It was like reading a play with the characters performing so well. The characters like the letter-writer,shop owner, violinist, gambler were very unique though playing the supporting cast were quite unique and lovable too. Sad that I was ignorant about this Indian author. Really loved reading this book.
Like any relationship, family takes a lot of work and and naturing. Sometimes it's loving, sometimes it's dysfunctional. But, good or bad, you only have one family.

Family Matters tells a story of one middle-class family in Mumbai (Bombay), India. The grandfather, Nariman, suffers from Parkinson's disease. His two step-children, Coomy and Jal, live with him and are their caretakers. Roxana, Nariman's real daughter, lives a happy life with her husband, Yezad, and her two children, Murad and Jehang
Oct 25, 2009 notgettingenough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody interested in real India
Shelves: indian
Some years ago I found myself collecting a rather appalling statistic. Women in India who are burned to death by their husbands, often in collusion with the mother of the husband. The preferred method is to douse the wife in petrol and then set alight. It generally does the trick, though unfortunately sometimes one ends up with a dreadfully disfigured wife who survives.

The real eye-opening thing about this practice is that it is a middle-class commonplace. The woman burned to death may well have
Jan 06, 2014 Sophie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 15, 2011 Gina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in just 2 days, it was so engrossing. Not as good as A Fine Balance, but still an illuminating look into the lives of Indians living a typical middle class life. Apart from the Indian focus, I just loved the detailed exploration of what it feels like to guide a close relative to death in your home, especially from the points of view of the two boys aged 9 and 12 (I think). The struggle to not resent a parent or in-law for needing care and suddenly being so helpless was presented ...more
Aug 11, 2012 Jane rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stopped-reading
I want to like this book. I remember reading A Fine Balance and being moved by it. I thought it was somewhat melodramatic and that while some of the characters were interesting, many seemed one dimensional, particularly the "bad" guys. Both things feel particularly true about this book so far.

Nariman is the aging patriarch of the family, Jal and Coomy's step father. He's salt of the earth. You get that from the first page. And Jal and Coomy are not nice. Ungrateful wretches. When Nariman, who h
Paul Secor
Until recently, if someone had said to me that people and families can be very similar, no matter what the country or culture, I would have listened, filed that idea away, and forgotten about it. Now, having read Family Matters, I've come to understand and feel the truth of that notion. Rohinton Mistry's words and the characters he created have led to me to that understanding and feeling. The notion is a seemingly simple one, but one that's important and one that I hope stays with me.

In my ignor
Ian Robertson
Dec 26, 2014 Ian Robertson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seven years after his outstanding and incredibly moving novel A Fine Balance, Mistry returns to Mumbai and weaves readers into the lives of Nariman Vakeel, a 79 year old retired professor, and his family. As the tapestry takes shape a complex thematic pattern emerges of aging, death, family, religion, politics, and duty. A truly immersive book; fantastic on every level, and a must read for lovers of literature.

Like a long, sinuous shot in the opening scene of a movie, Mistry plunges readers int
Aug 31, 2015 Disha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are some writers, who publish novels and then there are some like Rohinton Mistry who tell stories of a time that is long gone. He brings out the agony of unfulfilled love and the consequences that follow intricately in 'Family Matters.' I believed that 'Such a Long Journey' was his finest, but I am glad that he proved me wrong, yet again. Often while reading,the misery of his characters and their choices weighed down on me. It felt as if I was feeling Nariman's pain when Lucy stood on the ...more
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Rohinton Mistry is considered to be one of the foremost authors of Indian heritage writing in English. Residing in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, Mistry belongs to the Parsi Zoroastrian religious minority.

Mistry’s first novel, Such a Long Journey (1991), brought him national and international recognition. Mistry’s subsequent novels have achieved the same level of recognition as his first. His second n
More about Rohinton Mistry...

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“Everyone underestimates their own life. Funny thing is, in the end, all our stories...they're the same. In fact, no matter where you go in the world, there is only one important story: of youth, loss and yearning for redemption. So we tell the same story, over and over. Only the details are different. ” 172 likes
“What folly made young people, even those in middle age, think they were immortal? How much better, their lives, if they could remember the end. Carrying your death with you every day would make it hard to waste time on unkindness and anger and bitterness, on anything petty. That was the secret: remembering your dying time, in order to keep the stupid and the ugly out of your living time.” 22 likes
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