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Mistry, Rohinton.

Markham (Ont.), Penguin Books, 1987, 250pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-14-009777-5. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Katheryn Broughton

Volume 15 Number 5
1987 November

The setting of this collection of short stories could be described as Bombay, Canada, for each selection reveals vivid memories of childhood and early youth coloured by a Toronto immigrant experience. The reader enters the world of a slightly run-down Bombay low-rise, not entirely dissimilar to the one in a Toronto suburb that is home to the narrator of the final story. Among the rich array of characters there is Rustomji, nicknamed the curmudgeon because of his irascible nature; there is Najamai, the intrusively helpful neighbour and the proud owner of a refrigerator; and there is Dr. Mody, the veterinarian and collector of stamps, who befriends the young misfit, Jehangir. These and others in the community are brought to scintillating life by this talented storyteller, and while elements of Parsi life are fascinatingly foreign, the essence of each personality is exposed as somehow reassuringly familiar and universally human. There is wry humour in the scatological references, perhaps because Indian plumbing is none too reliable. (By way of contrast, it is Canadian heating which fails to operate properly!) It should be noted that the sexual references in several of the stories are candid, accurately reflecting the prurience of the adolescent male, but these are unlikely to offend the senior high school or adult reader. Senior level English courses requiring some reflection of the fact of the Canadian mosaic (an idea treated ironically in one of the stories) could certainly include this collection on their reading lists.

Katheryn Broughton, Thornhill, Ont.
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