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Such a Long Journey

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  9,940 ratings  ·  532 reviews

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 rec

Hardcover, 339 pages
Published May 7th 1991 by Alfred a Knopf (first published 1991)
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David Foster I'd have to say A Fine Balance was my first choice. Such a Long Journey touches several topics about India like Gustad's train ride to New Delhi and t…moreI'd have to say A Fine Balance was my first choice. Such a Long Journey touches several topics about India like Gustad's train ride to New Delhi and the pollution in the streets which brought back many memories for me. I was in Bombay for a week during the Pakistan war. (less)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, novels
P Bryant: Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for Goodreads.

Rohinton Mistry : My pleasure. It's such a nice website.

PB: Yes. Regarding Such a Long Journey, your first novel, must say that I found it almost unbearably moving.

RM : Why thank you. Many people have said similar things.

PB : In fact (tears begin to stream) when I think…

RM : Have a tissue -

PB : When I think -

RM : Have another tissue -

PB : When I think..

RM : Yes?

PB : of the fate of Gustad Noble and his family.. (breaks down complete

This book is suffused in such melancholy that I'm still unable to shake off the feeling.
In Paradise Lost, Milton described Hell as a place without hope- such is Bombay, India in 1971-- overflowing gutters, mounds of fetid garbage, dirt & despair everywhere- a state of general apathy which is only symptomatic of the deep rot within- emanating from the power centre in Delhi; from the very top.

One could live with chronic water shortage, load shedding, adulterated milk (still same same!), but how to
I really enjoyed this book. It is a touching story of an Indian family in the early seventies, a turbulent time in India's history. Mistry managed to create a colourful and rich setting and his characters are well believable, imperfect and therefore very human.
I gave it four stars because it did not drag me into the story like his other novel A Fine Balance did. I still felt I was kept at a comfortable distance where in AFB I, as a reader, felt I was being made a part of the misery and happines
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book five years ago — long before I ever read A Fine Balance and had my heart formidably broken to pieces. Today, just as all those years ago, Such A Long Journey remains for me a profound sampler of the tragic despair that Mistry came to be known for over the course of his career, and what a haunting despair at that, touched by claws of injustice and vicissitude as palpable in his fiction as in life.

Set during Indira Gandhi's prime-ministerial rule against the backdrop of
Nov 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have the name Rohinton Mistry etched on my brain for he is the author of my favourite book of all time – A Fine Balance.
This is a story that is again set in Mumbai, India, and is focused on a small community and in particular Gustad, his wife and their three children. It is brilliantly written in what I would call trademark Mistry language (having now read a whole two of his books!) – compelling and intricate with great character descriptions.
The reason I have given this book 3 stars and not
Oct 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian

Update April 2016: I noticed, in connection with the banning of Naipaul's An Area of Darkness in India, that the University of Mumbai banned this book with alacrity upon the threat of violence from a rightwing political group looking for attention. All over the world free speech is being eroded in universities, ironically from both the left side of the divide and the right. It is something both sides apparently agree upon, that people should only be allowed to say what their side wants to hear.
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I will have to critically analyse this book for a paper I'm studying this semester, I'll leave the critical thinking part for later. Instead, I'd like to focus on how this book made me feel.

Mistry does this thing - he makes sure you're on the verge of crying, and then he says something that almost magically dispels the sadness that would inevitably have resulted in tears. But this book did make me cry in the end, which also means that I loved it. Any book that can make me cry is a good bo
May 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance is one of the most deeply affecting books I've ever read. It shook my conscience to its bone and obliterated any sense of national pride I might've had. Instead, it instilled in me a deep sense of guilt, shame, and disgust about the history of this allegedly great nation - a nation where millions of people were and are systematically oppressed and humiliated and exploited to no end. Hollinghurst mirrors this sentiment word-to-word in his novel Swimming Pool Libra ...more
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z2019, indian

As usual, the theme and premise was good. That's the thing about his books. You get to deep dive into a Parsi day to day life.

The descriptions around the wall. The wall artist.
The characters - Dr Paymaster, Peerbhoy Panwalla, Tehmul Langra, Dinshawji and Lorrie Coutino... and the incidents around them.
The ceremonies related to the tower of silence.
Yet again, theme around Indira Gandhi and her motorcar wala son :)

But somehow this lacked the punch and intensity.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At various points I was reminded of these 3 Calvin and Hobbes strips:
The house has been burgled, and while Calvin is able to sleep peacefully with Hobbes as support, his parents find their peace disturbed.

That's almost the story of Gustad, a middle aged man with 3 children, watching them grow up, going through the vagaries of them growing up - a teenager, a pre-teen and a sickly child, and trying hard to hold the whole thing together. Then there are the friends who 'betray' him, friends he l
Set in Bombay in 1971, as India prepares for a war with Pakistan over what becomes Bangladesh, it tells the story of the family of Gustad Noble. Noble is a hard working bank clerk and devoted family man.
The book touches on many themes, political corruption, long term friendships, loss of loved ones, alternative medicine, and the mentally ill. It is a well woven story, but as a first novel, perhaps does not go deep enough into some themes, and includes a few too many.
The characters are likeable,
Jennifer (aka EM)
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A better understanding of the political events occurring in the background would have enriched my reading of this, but even without, Mistry was able to catch and hold my attention, weaving layers of story and symbolism together, creating a sometimes farcical, bittersweet domestic tale. I felt like I got to know this group of middle-class Indians and their microcosm of that larger world a little bit better. I certainly got to smell it - from frangipani and sandalwood to rotting garbage and sewage ...more
Mar 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I read it in India and for me it reflects all the ambiguity of this wonderful country; the corruption of its government and yet the generosity and charm of many of its inhabitants. Gustad Noble is a character with whom ones sympathises from the start, a man who tries to do his best for his family and his friends in difficult circumstances and who is always doubting himself and his ability to negotiate the difficult world around him.
I liked and disliked this book for all the same reasons:

* The story is slow to unfold. At first this was pure awesome because Mistry would drop these little hints that made me realize there was an incredible back story; but then as this continued it became repitious and frustrating. It also made it feel like so much of the text was really just filler.

* Interesting characters. I love interesting characters! But I quickly realized that there were so many different characters that they all began to
Lorina Stephens
Nov 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rul
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another masterpiece by Mistry, i'm overjoyed that I have found another prize author! Set during the Indian war over Bangladesh, Gustad Noble takes us on a journey of fraud, corrupt politics, witchcraft, family feuds, a million religious relics and so much more. If you enjoyed A Fine Balance, then you're in for a treat. I loved this book. ...more
I feel like I'd have enjoyed this book more if I knew more about Indian culture and history, as it was I was a little confused at several aspects. Though not confused enough to not understand the overall plot. It's definitely reminded me just how ignorant I am of so many parts of this world. I felt like it was dragging for the last 40 pages or so, which was a shame because previously it hadn't felt like that.
It is undoubtedly well written, however.
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-books
Such a wonderful book!!
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5. A good story, but not nearly as good as A FINE BALANCE.
Sana Abdulla
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The auther has an amazing ability to weave a story out of everyday life, with such talent and creativity that he can do no wrong by me.
In this book I was thinking, aha you are losing your grip here Mr. Mistry and you will be getting a B on your paper for the first time, because I'm not buying a crucial part of the plot (Gustad/Jimmy betrayal) but of course he has a way more sophisticated imagination then me and he wraps up the book with so much finesse,he deserves another standing ovation.
Asha Seth
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like to read Indian Literature.
I wonder why we never get to hear much about good books like Mistry’s penning quite contrary to the books that stand tall in bookshops but have nothing to appease a reader’s appetite.

Anyway! Here goes the review.

What you wouldn’t want to know about a book is that it is endlessly tiring, way too lengthy running over 450 pages with sentences as long as a paragraph, too many characters to keep up with, so many incidents that you forget what happened the last page, and to make matters worse, events
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a lovely book ! The protagonist is a regular guy, a typical Indian father, and he wins you over with his gentleness and approach to life. The story is set against backdrop of Mumbai and the turbulent times during 1971 war. Politics of that decade makes a sneak peek appearance, yet is always influencing the background story. The characters you thought you wouldn’t like, also grow on you, much like life itself. The major events unravel slowly, but the story moves fast. Most characters are wel ...more
Poor Rohinton Mistry - he must know that the downside to writing one of the best books ever is that all of his other books will consistently get reviews that say "not as good as A Fine Balance".

This is indeed true, but this should not dissuade the reader from giving Such a Long Journey a fair crack as there is a lot about this book that is very, very good. Mistry's writing style is lyrical and eloquent. His dialogue is written so that you can feel as if you are in the kitchen with Gustad and Dil
Michael Finocchiaro
While not as good as A Fine Balance, Mistry's first book, Such a Long Journey is an interesting tale about Indira Ghandi's India under Emergency Rule. It follows a single protagonist through a complex and occasionally dangerous landscape. It is interesting but I preferred Rushdie's Midnight's Children about the Emergency and A Fine Balance as a better example of Mistry's writing. Still, it deserves 3-stars as a highly readable story and a Booker prize runner-up. ...more
Sep 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an engrossing book...and I learned so much from it! This is the second Mistry book I have read, the first being A Fine Balance. I am in awe of his writing skills and his expansive knowledge. (But just as with A Fine Balance, I wish he did not make the disgusting so aptly disgusting--I could actually smell the dirt and the squalor by just reading the passages describing that!)
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Such a Long journey may seem to only be about one family but Rohinton Mistry manages to encompass the politics of India at this period in time through their story. Gustad is the main character, a Parsi who has a strong faith, a father disappointed in his eldest son, a loving if distracted husband to his wife Dilvanaz, a good friend to Dinshawji his joker coworker, Tehmul a brain damaged young man and most importantly to Major Jimmy Bilmoria who asks a favor of Gustad that could put him
A beautiful, bittersweet story of a small community in Bombay in 1971. The folk stories within this story are wildly fascinating, such as this: "In the old days, when it was time for the [emperors] to walk naked before the public with erect phallus, to convince his subjects that the right to be ruler still belonged to him, it was the palung-tode [a mixture of herbs] he relied on...the secret was told to a few courtiers only, who, each year...were executed to guard the deception." But for me, "Su ...more
Oct 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adorable , heartbreaking and enduring ! The soul of the book remained with me long after I finished reading it. Almost as if I had just met the people in the story and travelled a part of their journey with them ! That’s how beautifully Rohinton Mistry has etched out his characters in this heart rendering tale of relationships, love , betrayal and pain. The book tells us the story of Gustad Noble , a simple and honest man, one who remains immaterial and inconsequential in the larger scheme of so ...more
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How come some authors churn out books and you wonder whether someone should have a polite word telling them to stop yet others produce wonderful novels but someone should have a similar word encouraging them to hurry up and write more! So it is with Rohinton Mistry, and whilst this (as his first novel) isn't quite the masterpiece that he would produce with 'A Fine Balance' is still a wonderful portrait of India in the 1970's and MIstry has the ability to create a story about a man and his family ...more
Jul 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Indian fiction
Recommended to Fran by: Amazon when I ordered another Indian novel
Shelves: indian-fiction
I had previously read Mistrey's Oprah book, "A Fine Balance" and his collection of short stories, "Swimming Lessons" and this is not as good as either of them. However, this IS his first novel, so I should cut him some slack. It is very good, just not as good as the other two books of his I have read. Before I read "A Fine Balance" my familiarity with Indian fiction and my knowledge of India at all was miniscule. I remember being SO SHOCKED about what happens in "A Fine Balance" that at one poin ...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

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“But the artist began to have misgivings as the wall underwent its transformation. Bigger than any pavement project he had yet undertaken, it made him restless. Over the years, a precise cycle had entered the rhythm of his life, the cycle of arrival, creation, and obliteration. Like sleeping, waking and stretching, or eating, digesting and excreting, the cycle sang in harmony with the blood in his veins and the breath in his lungs. He learned to disdain the overlong sojourn and the procrastinated departure, for they were the progenitors of complacent routine, to be shunned at all costs. The journey -- chanced, unplanned, solitary -- was the thing to relish.

Now, however, his old way of life was being threatened. The agreeable neighborhood and the solidity of the long, black wall were reawakening in him the usual sources of human sorrow: a yearning for permanence, for roots, for something he could call his own....”
“He spent long hours meditating on the wisdom of loving living things which invariably ended up dead.” 6 likes
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