Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Tales from Firozsha Baag

Book Details:
Tales from Firozsha Baag

Author: Rohinton Mistry
Publisher: Penguin Books (1989)

Good Reads Intro: In these eleven intersecting stories, Rohinton Mistry opens our eyes and our hearts to the rich, complex patterns of life inside this Bombay apartment building. The occupants - from Jaakaylee, the ghost-seer, through Najamai, the only owner of a refrigerator in Firozsha Baag, to Rustomji the Curmudgeon and Kersi, the young boy whose life threads through the book - all express the tensions between the past and the present, between the old world and the new.

My Review: This is my first Rohniton Mistry books, and I must say, it was very good. The book is a collection of short stories about occupants living in a Parsi apartment complex (baag) in Bombay. Being a Mumbaiite and having seen the Parsi community at close quarters in school, I could relate to the book. Mistry weaves a compelling story through each of the excerpts, pulling us into the lives of Kersi, Najmai, Nariman Hansotia, Jehangir and the others. Each of the story is based upon an individual occupant or family of the building, but the other characters weave in and out of them.

I'm not much of a fan of short stories, but I really liked the fact that Mistry limited himself to a certain number of characters maintaining a sense of community while giving us a glimpse into each of their lives. The book is a good depiction of Mumbai life in the '80s, especially if you were a child then. Through stories like The Squatter and Swimming Lessons, it also highlights on the experiences of immigrants and their lives. 

I rate the book a 4/5 for the really good writing style and the fact that it took me back to the time when I was a child and things were much simpler. I would recommend it to anyone. I read this as part of the 100+ Reading Challenge 2011.

Rating: 4/5

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