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Central European Journal of Canadian Studies Revue d’Etudes Canadiennes en Europe Centrale articles
Judit Molnár
University of Debrecen, Hungary
Such a Long Journey (1991):
Topophilic Sentiments in Rohinton Mistry
In Such a Long Journey (1991), Rohinton Mistry’s second book of fiction, the city of Mumbai (Bombay in the novel) surfaces as a character of its own. Spatiality is of extreme importance in this novel. The multifaceted matrix of diff erent spaces and places are in the focus of the narrative among them domestic, personal, intimate, spiritual, cultural, real and fictional ones. Through an in-depth analysis of these spatial formations my aim is to prove that Mistry has a strong sense of nostalgia towards his homeland, including the colonial past of India and its post-independence present.
Dans le deuxième ouvrage de fiction de Rohinton Mistry, Such a Long Journey (1991), la ville de Mumbaï (Bombay) s’impose pour ainsi dire, en tant que personnage de plein droit. En eff et, la spatialité revêt dans ce roman une importance extrême. Le réseau complexe des diff rents espaces et lieux – domestiques, privés, intimes, spirituels, culturels, tant réels que fi ctifs
– constitue le centred intrt de la narration. Dans mon étude, je me propose de montrer, par une analyse poussée des diverses formes de la spatialité, que Mistry ressent une profonde nostalgie pour sa patrie, le pass colonial de l’Inde et son présent depuis l’indépendance.
Mistry’s second book of fi ction, his 1991 Such a Long Journey (SLJ), which was turned into a movie in 1998, follows in the footsteps of his 1987 Tales from Firozsaha Baag (TFB), but it also departs from it in many ways. According to Dutt, The most impressive novels of South Asian fi ction writers are set outside Canada, have nothing to do with the Canadian experience, or the Canadian landscape [...]” (188). Her statement certainly holds true for SLJ because it is exclusively set in India. Genetsch, meanwhile, says, it is safe to suggest that Bombay becomes to Mistry what Dublin was to Joyce and Jeff erson to Faulkner (138). SLJ
takes us from Firozsha Baag to Khodadad Building, from one Parsi housing complex to another one. The insular world of Khodadad Building, an islandlike space and a microcosm of the Parsi community in India (Genetsch, 154), serves as a reference point for reaching out to other signifi cant places. So it is that spatial expansiveness is much more in evidence here than in TFB period. As Leckie contends:
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CEJCS_07_2011.indd 33 25.1.2012 13:01:06 25.1.2012 13:01:06

Judit Molnár
Topophilic Sentiments in Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey (1991)
Th e persistent themes in Mistry’s work are eclectic the intersection between sacred religious rituals and personal secular concerns, violated property, bodily functions, garbage, secrets, and forms of spiritual and material inheritance are woven into his unique and idiosyncratic evocation of people and places. (232; emphasis added)
In the following, I concentrate on the idiosyncratic evocation of places – that is to say, the way in which Mistry’s Bombay, an amalgam of areal and fi ctive place, is mapped within the novel to extend both character and theme. The whole existence of the main character, Gustad Noble, is closely linked to the place where he lives i.e. to Khodadad building, and within that to his very home. His extremely strong attachment to his home is the basis of his consolidated personality Fora man swimming the tidewater of his fi fth decade of life, they said, he looked so solid” (10; emphasis added. Khodadad Building resembles Firozsha Baag in many ways Although it was only six stories, that was enough, for Khodadad Building was but three, being short and wide ten fl ats in a row, stacked three high, with fi ve entrances and stairways for each adjacent set of fl ats” (106; emphasis added. Gustad’s friend, Jimmy, on his deathbed in Delhi also a ectionately remembers the housing complex How I miss Khodadad Building
[...] wish I never took Delhi posting. But I can comeback in four years. [...] Early morning.

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