Thursday, October 21st, 2010
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is often rated as a favourite book of many readers. Louis de Bernieres of Captain Corelli’s fame told the The Book Show that it’s one of his top five novels.
But it’s a book published in 1991 that has Mistry in the headlines this week. University students in Mumbai have burnt copies of Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey because they object to its profanity and the portrayal of right wing politicians in the novel, as reported by CBC News.
‘This is very unfortunate, and unfortunately a recurring thing in India’ says Anjum Hasan from The Caravan Magazine in India to The Book Show, ‘This one [book] is critical of the right wing party Shiv Sena’, a Hindu nationalist party. ‘The founder of the party’s grandson is a student at the Bombay college which is Rohinton Mistry’s alma mater’ and apparently he demanded its banning.
Anjum Hasan says protests against books and art is becoming common in India but says it is shocking for a university to summarily drop the book from the syllabus. There are now protests against the vice-chancellor’s actions.
Hasan says the irony is that Rohinton Mistry portrays the Shiv Sena as a group who intimidates people to achieve their ends. She argues they’re using the same tactic to get the book banned.
Hasan says it’s a tragic situation. ‘It makes it difficult to have an intelligent debate on the book. If there are issues that they have problems with it would be interesting to have a discussion to talk about how you portray sensitive topics but all of that is not possible now as they simply don’t want to see that book around.’
*Listen to the whole interview with Anjum Hasan on The Book Show