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Family Matters

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  20,573 ratings  ·  946 reviews
Rohinton Mistry’s enthralling novel is at once a domestic drama and an intently observed portrait of present-day Bombay in all its vitality and corruption. At the age of seventy-nine, Nariman Vakeel, already suffering from Parkinson’s disease, breaks an ankle and finds himself wholly dependent on his family. His step-children, Coomy and Jal, have a spacious apartment (in ...more
Paperback, Reprint Edition, 500 pages
Published November 18th 2003 by Vintage (first published 2002)
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Alex Duncan At times yes it is hilarious. Laugh out loud. Don't want to create a spoiler so wont say anymore. Just loving reading this wonderful novel.

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Average rating 4.02  · 
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Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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?
Elyse  Walters
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Update: $2.99 kindle special today!!! It’s fabulous! I still haven’t read “A Fine Balance” yet - but own it. Everyone says that Books fantastic as well —
Yet I find it hard to believe that the author could write another book any better than this one. Perhaps!
A $2.99 special for this family epic novel is a fantastic price!!!!

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
Mar 07, 2010 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 ...more
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Well, I read this the whole way through and Steve Urkel didn't appear once, folks.

This confirms my suspicion that Rohinton Mistry is one of the finest writers of our time. While I still preferred A Fine Balance of the two stories I've read by him (it was grander in scale), the more intimate Family Matters is still 100 percent 5-star fare with rich, evocative, Dickensian characters, set against the sprawling, corrupt, bustling backdrop of Bombay-soon-to-be-Mumbai, India.

When the 79-year-old
Dec 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
"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
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels, india
What, I didn't review Family Matters? Okay, here is the review :

Rohinton Mistry -

three novels, three five star ratings


Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booker-nominated
I have been mulling over my review for this book all day. I ended up really unsure of my feelings about it. I suppose up until the events of the last third I was happy to give this one a ringing endorsement.

The titular family matters under discussion are principally the care of the elderly Nariman, afflicted with Parkinsons and a broken ankle he is unceremoniously deposited with his daughters family, the care of whom places enormous strain on an already stretched family budget. This premise
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is my second straight read of Rohinton Mistry after “Such a long journey”. The strength of his books is very clearly in the colourful build-up of the characters. They are so real that you start reading along, thinking how easily you could be in this situation yourself.

The story of Yezad, his wife Roxanna, their children, dependent father in law Nariman Vakeel, Nariman's step children Coomie and Jal. The book toggles between Nariman's life - the joys and pains, as also his having to marry
This novel was another of my bibliotherapy prescriptions, specifically intended as a cure for worry about ageing parents. Retired professor Nariman Vakeel, 79, has Parkinson’s disease and within the first few chapters has also fallen and broken his ankle. His grown stepchildren, Coomy and Jal, who are reluctant to care for him anyway, decide they can’t cope with the daily reality of bedpans, sponge baths and spoon feeding and conspire to make it look like it’s impossible to keep Pappa in their ...more
Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I read this as part of the Mookse and Gripes reading of the 2002 Man Booker Prize shortlist. I am not sure I would have picked it up apart from that incentive. To be honest, after about 100 pages, I was thinking of putting it back down again. It is, deliberately I believe, farcical as it relates the story of members a family battling against one another. The book description here on Goodreads provides all the plot background that is necessary, so there is no need for me to write anything about ...more
Oct 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Diane S ☔
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Sushma Manava
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a lovely book. I have new found empathy for old people and all that they suffer and how helpless they feel. Every person in this family was so unique and well represented. LOVED this book so much.
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 ...more
Srimal Ashish
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yet another masterpiece from Mr. Mistry. Few months back i picked his "A Fine Balance" from the shelf and was mesmerized the way he expresses the events and emotions. The best thing about Rohinton Mistry is he has got the beauty of capturing the little unnoticed experiences of a common mans life. The resemblance he creates is nostalgic. Talking about the book, the literary fiction is set during the time of Babri Masjid fall and rise of Shiv Sena. The politically fouled air and terror among the ...more
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I had read this book a long time ago but still remember it as it dealt with a slightly different aspect. This is the story of a Parsi family living in Mumbai as they progress through life. It was like reading through the diary of the family members as it slowly moves towards the end.

May be I would read it again sometimes to see what has changed with me being 35 now and also my own growth as a reader as well. Well this was good enough that I remember the book still. Well Keep on Reading folks.
David Cerruti
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ... :)
Eric Wright
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing

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
Sonia Gomes
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: fantastic, india
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jul 17, 2007 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, india, tragedy
It's a classic Rohinton Mistry, nobody expects the man to paint happy little rainbows, but melancholia seeps through the pages of Family Matters. In some ways, it's reminiscent of A Fine Balance, the manner in which characters are affected by events larger than themselves, but manage to trudge along until Mistry decides, in one fell swoop, to unleash all the horrors of hell upon them. In other ways, it's more like Such A Long Journey, with its focus on familial affairs and a (relative) tunnel ...more
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Stella Chen
Sep 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school
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?
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
On the surface, it is a simple, slice-of-life story of a middle-class Parsi family living in Mumbai.

At the center of all things, is Nariman Vakeel, battling both the onset of Parkinson's and the changing attitude of his stepchildren, Coomy and Jal, who find taking care of their father both difficult and distasteful. The youngest sibling, Roxanna, with her husband and two kids, is on the other side of this equation, balancing her siblings' lack of care with a kind of self-sacrificing love that
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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
“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. ” 191 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.” 34 likes
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