The Ethno-Religious Consciousness in Rohinton Mistry’s critique of Nationalism in Such a Long Journey
Rohinton Mistry, an Indian born Canadian writer, has earned, with the publication of his three novels, a position on par with the major writers of contemporary Indian English fiction.A major thematic concern recurrent in Mistry’s fiction is the community centered existence of the Parsees. His fiction, albeit being highly political, is quintessentially community centered as well. Even so, there is a constant movement away from the particular experience of an individual or rather the Parsee community to the collective experience shared by the nation. He makes parallel connections between the communal and the national life, identifying the in-built and inevitable relationship between the self, community and national consciousness.
‘Such a Long Journey’, Mistry’s debut novel, portrays the ethos and the dynamic nature of the Parsee community, in an attempt to criticize the nationalist discourse, which abrasively excludes the minority community and treats them as peripheral. Mistry successfully proves that such a double-edged ‘nationalism ’is abhorrent to a democratic and heterogenous society like India.
The present study attempts to read the ways in which Mistry’s Such a Long Journey takes part in the critique of nationalism. Nationalism is a pivotal concept as far as country’s polity is concerned. In a sense, nationalist discourse reiterates the colonial discourse as its components take their origin from the power structure of imperialism. The homogenous conceptualization of nationalist traditions turns a blind eye to the diverse nature of nation and its communities. This study becomes relevant in an age when neocolonialism and religious fundamentalism appropriate the nationalist ideology to suit their purpose.
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