Rohinton Mistry Additional Biography


Rohinton Mistry was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, on July 3, 1952, the second of four children of Behram Mistry, an employee of an advertising agency, and Freny Jhaveri Mistry. The family were members of Bombay’s Parsi community. Rohinton was educated at the Villa Theresa Primary School and St. Xavier High School. During his high school years, he learned to play the guitar and the harmonica, and he became a member of a band that played British and American folk-rock songs. At nineteen, while attending a music school, Mistry struck up an acquaintance with Freny Elavia, who would eventually become his wife.

Both Mistry and Elavia continued their schooling at the University of Bombay. Mistry studied mathematics and economics at St. Xavier’s College, graduating with a B.S. degree. Meanwhile, Freny Elavia, who was now his fiancé, had gone to Toronto, Canada, for a year’s visit with relatives. In 1975, Mistry immigrated to Canada, became a citizen, and married Elavia.

The couple settled in Toronto. Mistry found employment as a clerk at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, where he eventually become head of customer services. Mistry also attended night classes, first at York University and then at the University of Toronto, where he concentrated on literature and philosophy. There he became familiar with the works of the Irish writer James Joyce and those of the nineteenth century British novelists Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope, authors to whom Mistry would later be compared by reviewers. In 1983, Mistry received a B.A. from the University of Toronto. During this period, Mistry’s wife, Freny, had also been furthering her education. In 1981, she earned a B.A. from the University of Toronto. The following year, she received a bachelor of education degree from the same school and was promptly employed as a high school teacher in nearby Brampton.

Although Mistry had done a little writing while he was at the University of Toronto, he had not submitted works for publication. However, at Freny’s urging, he decided to enter a short story in the 1983 Hart House Literary Contest. For his subject matter, Mistry turned to what he knew best: life among the Parsis in Bombay. His story “One Sunday” earned him first prize and $250, and the following year, “Auspicious Occasion,” which was set in the same apartment house as its predecessor, again won the Hart House competition. With the encouragement of the well-known Canadian writer Mavis Gallant, who had been one of the judges for the contest, Mistry continued to turn out short stories and to submit them for...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Though his fiction contains some lighthearted scenes, Rohinton Mistry is too much a realist to be optimistic about human existence. His characters are subject to disease, old age, and eventual death: that is simply a given. However, they also live in fear of each other. In Mistry’s India, a knock on the door or a riot on the street outside can spell doom for someone who has never harmed anyone else. Although his novels stress the need for political reforms and for creating bridges between religious groups, they also emphasize a spiritual truth: In the final analysis, human beings have control only over their own behavior.


Rohinton Mistry was born in 1952 in Bombay, India’s largest city and the most densely populated place in the world. He grew up as a member...

(The entire section is 500 words.)