Family Matters, by Rohinton Mistry

Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry's novel is as straight­forward and unpretentious as its title. No pyrotechnics, no metafictional irony, no attempts to draw attention to itself. Yet, like its title ("family" as adjective or noun, "matters" as noun or verb), it invites multiple readings. Set in 1990s Bombay, this spacious novel tells the story of the extended family of Nariman Vakeel, a retired 79-year-old English professor who has Parkinson's disease and osteoporosis. Family conflict begins in earnest when Nariman falls and breaks his ankle, thus requiring nursing care.


He has been living with his stepson and stepdaughter, Jal and Coomy, in a spacious apartment in a building called Chateau Felicity. The caregiving becomes too much for them, and Coomy, the more aggressive of the two, who resents what she sees as her stepfather's role in her mother's death, convinces Jal to have their sister Roxana care for him.

 

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