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Alumni: Giving U of T more reasons to be proud


Alumni Portraits
Rohinton Mistry
Current Industry: Literature
Bachelor of Arts (BA) 1982, Woodsworth College
Hon. Doctor of Letters (Hon. DLITT) 1999

Mistry’s novels, Such a Long Journey, A Fine Balance and Family Matters, have won numerous awards including Canada’s Giller Prize. Here is what one reviewer said about A Fine Balance: “This is a work of genius. I cannot begin to review it without saying so. It should be read by everyone who loves books, win every prize, make its author a millionaire.”

Mistry was born in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1952 and graduated with a degree in Mathematics from the University of Bombay in 1974 and came to Canada the following year. He worked as a bank clerk and earned a degree in English and Philosophy at U of T in 1982.

At U of T, Mistry won the Hart House literary award for his short stories and remains the only writer to win the award two years in a row. The stories were included in his collection Tales from Firoszha Baag, published in 1987.

"That contest is what started it all. Midway through my English courses at U of T, the idea of writing fiction began to pull me. Invariably, though, I would push it away — it seemed an impossible dream, till the announcement for the Hart House competition gave me the impetus to sit down and write my first short story."

In an interview with January Magazine, Mistry said that writing is an organic experience for him. “Before I start I need at least one character I want to work with. It allows the journey to commence. At this stage, there is no more than a vague idea of where the story might lead, but it is enough to keep moving.”

Mistry’s work has won numerous literary prizes over the years, including the Trudeau Fellows Prize in 2004 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2009 and was a finalist for the 2011 Man Booker International Prize. He won the 2012 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. His work has been translated into more than 30 languages.


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