Celebrated Indian-born author Rohinton Mistry has strongly objected to his book being dropped from the Mumbai University curriculum. Such a Long Journey was withdrawn after the nationalist Shiv Sena party staged protests against its “derogatory” references to party members.
Mistry labelled the move “a sorry spectacle of book-burning“.
The novel – shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1991 – was on the university’s second-year Bachelor of Arts syllabus.
University officials insist that they have followed the correct procedures before dropping the book which they say contains offensive language…
Sounds as if “who” was offended is more important than principles involving creative thought and freedom.
The book is about Gustad Noble, a Parsi bank clerk struggling to provide for his family. It holds a mirror throughout his life of Mumbai in the early 1970s.
It contains observations about the Shiv Sena – sometimes in conversations and sometimes in narrative – which are none too complimentary about their politics.
“In this sorry spectacle of book-burning and book-banning, the Shiv Sena has followed its depressingly familiar, tediously predictable script of threats and intimidation that Mumbai has endured since the organisation’s founding in 1966,” a statement released by the author said.
“More bobbing, weaving, and slippery behaviour is no doubt in the offing. But one thing remains: a political party demanded an immediate change in syllabus, and Mumbai University provided deluxe service via express delivery, making the book disappear the very next day.”