Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, made into a movie of the same name starring Roshan Seth and Naseeruddin Shah
This book was Mistry’s first novel, but reading through it, one does not get that impression, as the novel is amazingly powerful and gripping – with great attention to detail. Mistry develops the story around an ordinary man and his family – and uses his background to paint such a fine picture that the reader would find themselves knowing the characters intimately.
The story revolves around a Parsi named Gustad Noble, who lives with his family in a Parsi dominated building in Bombay. There are supporting characters, who go in and out of Gustad’s life, but the key is that there are several icons in the novel, including Gustad’s obsession with covering his windows with black paper, the lame Tehmul, the outside black wall of their building and the tree in the courtyard. Each of these is given enough attention that they stay sharp in the background while the story is unfolding. The idiosyncrasies of the residents of the building, as well as the description of the world beyond the black wall is gripping.
The climax of the novel is well put together, where all the surviving cast of characters congregate at the black wall, surrounded by destruction and death – and the symbolic cutting down of the tree.
Not a light-hearted novel, but it’ll be hard to put it down once you start.