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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Tales from Firozsha Baag
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on 6 July 2001
Mistry has sucessfully captured the imagination of a child, who lives in an apartment building, and subsequently has adventures. This book is not just a collection of short stories, but an entire saga of the building and its inhabitants seen through the eyes of this young boy who we see growing up and, eventually, moving to Canada. A mixture of traditions, not just Parsi but a mash of all Indian cultures, this is a book which certainly has spice; the humour will sting you, and you won't be able to put this book down till it has finished!
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on 10 January 2006
Firozsha Baag is a block of flats in Bombay and these linked stories, eleven of them, tell the tales of its tenants. They are seen through the eyes of Kersi, first as a boy living with his parents and brother in the flats, and finally as a writer who has emigrated to Canada. These stories are so intimate, I sometimes felt uncomfortable, as if I were seeing things I shouldn't see, laughing at things I shouldn't laugh at. The writing is wonderful and cannot be skipped over. Every word counts. That and the writer's humanity made me keep reading to the end and then start at the beginning again - and order more of his books.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 May 2014
Firozsha Baag is an apartment block in Bombay where families, mainly Parsees - a Zoroastrian community of the Indian subcontinent - live. With this as a direct or indirect setting, Rohan Mistry has written eleven interconnected stories about the lives of the residents or, if they have moved away, about how living there affected their lives.

The characters of Firozsha Baag are middle class - doctors, chartered accountants, veterinarians and the stories describe how the neighbours get on, their concerns about money, employment and their children, as well as their enthusiasm for cricket and storytelling, and the requirements of their religion. But they also have to engage in daily battle with intermittent water-supply, dilapidated homes, peeling paint, falling plaster and leaking WCs, as in ‘Auspicious Occasion’. Few of the residents own a refrigerator and other tenants make use of Najamai’s in ‘One Sunday’, a story that ends up with violence that is, in part at least, due to the religious divide.

During the stories, people die, babies are born, the young are educated and frequently move away, some, like the author, to Canada [Mistry left Bombay in 1975 and has admitted to writing about a Bombay of the past]. The lives in the stories are, individually, insignificant but together they add up to a convincing and poignant slice of Indian late 20th-century life [the book was published in 1987].

Information about the lifestyles and religious observance of Parsees, most notably the Fire Temple and its slow, ancient rituals, is presented in most of the stories, sometimes with slight repetition so that the author is able to inform readers without overwhelming them. As a minority, Parsees are often excluded by the much larger Hindu and Muslim populations who feel that Parsees were favoured by the British.

The stories vary in style in style: from first person to third person, from omniscient narrator to spellbinding storyteller, which keeps the reader fully engaged. Just when one thinks that the stories are very interesting but have not really been pulled together, in the final story, ‘Swimming Lessons’ Mistry does this brilliantly, from the perspective of Kersi, who is a thread running through the book, living in Canada, receiving and sending letters to his parents. At the end of the book it feels as if one has read a substantial piece of excellent writing. With the exception of the last story, which should always be read last, the individual stories may be read in any order without losing the feel of a fully interrelated text. By the end we understand the Parsees’ struggle to survive by adapting to the modern world and worry with them whether such adaptation, within and outside India, will cause them to lose their traditions, religious beliefs and identity. Today, the numbers of Parsees a less than a million world-wide. 70,000 live in India with 12,000 being in Bombay.

In ‘Squatter’, we meet the storyteller, Nariman Hansotia, who works in the Cawasji Framji Memorial Library, a good source for his stories that enthral the local children. One involves Sarosh who finds it difficult to use Western toilets when he moves to Canada; his difficulties in overcoming this condition are described with much humour. ‘The Collectors’ describes the friendship between Dr Mody, a philatelist, and an introspective boy who find a shared interest in stamp collecting. Their relationship is all the more touching since the doctor’s own son is very badly behaved, stoning cats is just one of his games, and is eventually sent away to boarding school.

This is a beautifully judged book, leaving the reader with a cast of interesting characters and should be an excellent avenue into the author’s equally-rewarding novels.
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on 22 December 2009
I have read three of Rohinton Mistry's books and can't agree with another reviewer who felt that they could not get on with his 'short stories' because they did not feel it had the characteristics of his novels.
I felt by the end of the book that all the characters in Firozshabaag had been linked together and with the usual pathos and amusement that shines through his writing.
Rohinton Mistry has been responsible for me making a trip to Mumbai to see areas in his stories and for enlightening me about the Parsi/Zoroastrians.I wanted to know what the Fire Temple and Tower of Silence were, and now I do.
I have one novel and one more book of short stories to go,and just wish he would hurry up and write some more.
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on 29 June 2009
Rohinton Mistry can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned - he's just incredible with his imagery that makes me just want to read more and more till I've finished the book with a very satisfied feeling. He always takes you on such wonderful journeys through life in India that make you feel. Love it and recommend it.
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on 10 March 2014
Nicely written book with an interesting idea for the setting of the book ( it goes around the characters in a block of flats near Bombay). Each chapter tells a tale of one of the residents. It makes a nice read but it didn't grab me
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on 3 April 2016
I'm not usually a fan of short stories or books with multiple themes as I get attached quickly and don't like leaving people or places but these tales are all interwoven with characters turning up in different tales, seen through different eyes. The sense of location is also very strong, not so much the city but the smaller world of the compound. I loved it and found the end very satisfying in the way it tied everything together.
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on 11 January 2013
A fine set of stories interlinked, the honesty and character in the stories is very endearing. I particularly loved the story about emigrating to Canada but unable to sit on loo properly! I found a common theme with some other books by Rohinton which kinds of makes you feel drawn into his world which I found very enjoyable. Highly recommended.
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on 9 June 2014
Wonderful! A beautiful and spellbinding collection of short stories based around a common theme - an apartment block and it's inhabitants. As usual, Mistry has you empathising with the wonderfully drawn characters - even the ones you don't always like! The stories are funny and some are very moving! Another masterpiece from this author.
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on 26 November 2012
This book contains a series of stories relating to the residents of a Parsi community located in 3 blocks collectively called the Firozsha Baag in the city of Mumbai (Bombay) which are either heartwarming, sad but extemely readable which I would highly recommend!
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