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Monday Reads: Tales from Firozsha Bag by Rohinton Mistry

Short story writing is not what Booker prize short-listed author Rohinton Mistry is most known for, but Tales from Firozsha Bag was his first book, and it is a book of short stories. It is also published as “Swimming Lessons and other Stories from FIrozsha Bag.

I picked it up last week, and was amazed at his sense of voice. He writes as an old woman who works as a maid for a Parsi family with as much conviction as that of a schoolboy who spends his Sunday mornings plucking white hair from his father’s head.

Even more than the voice, I loved the compassion and humor threaded through the stories, how Mistry had me laugh and cry at the same time. The characters are so well fleshed out, as is the atmosphere–Mistry took me into that apartment complex in Firozsha Bag, and despite the dirt, squalor, squashed hopes, mortality, fear and loathing he portrayed, I did not want to leave.

I ought to have read his novels Family Matters and A Fine Balance by now. I’m going to address that look as soon as I can.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

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