This month I read Such a long journey by Rohinton Mistry. This was Mistry’s first novel published in 1991. The book covers the life of a Bombay born Indian , an individual pitted against the bleakness of a largely indifferent world and how one must live with the decisions’ each of us make in order to survive. I’ve followed Mistry’s work since the publication of this novel, which was nominated for, but didn’t win, the Man Booker Prize. Aravind Adiga’s “Last Man in Tower” published last year in 2011 is not dissimilar in theme but provides a fresher view of an evolving core issue -survival in a rapidly expanding city such as Bombay (Mumbai) which has a population almost the size of Australia’s.
For someone interested in contemporary Bombay as a city and Indian culture generally, Seketu Mehta’s ” Makimum City : Bombay Lost and Found” published in 2004 is an excellent introduction and provides a fascinating non-fictional bridge between the mind’s of these two talented authors’. Although at almost 500 pages, I believe ” Maximum City ” would have benefited from some severe editing. Alienation and the quest for a meaningful existence link these Indian authors to an Irish writer such as Colm Toibin ,who is largely addressing the same themes – although perhaps a little more optimistically and from a different socio-cultual perspective.
I also delivered a paper on William Yang and HIV: “Witness to a Generation Lost to AIDS”, at the Eleventh Biennial Australian Homosexual History Conference, South Bank Campus, Griffith University, Brisbane on the 8-9 June 2012. It seemed to be well received and I hope it will be published by Monash University with other papers’ from this conference next year .This was the first time this conference has been held in Queensland.