Meet the Author: Cyrus Mistry, Winner of the 2014 DSC Prize
The Parsis — Zoroastrians who emigrated from Persia to India more than a thousand years ago — are one of India's diverse communities who have fiercely guarded their rich traditions, contributing immensely to India’s growth and development across industry, philanthropy, and culture. Despite dwindling in number, the Parsis face extremes of marginalization even within their own ranks. An eye-opening insight into a community that has largely kept itself away from prying eyes, Cyrus Mistry’s novel Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer is a tragic love story woven around the lives of the pallbearers or “khandhias." As Mistry notes, “No one hears about the khandhias, it’s such a microscopic community within an already-small community… but it raises universal questions about life, love and death.”
Join us for a discussion with the 2014 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature winner Cyrus Mistry in conversation with Bachi Karkaria on the lives and rituals of the Parsis. The conversation will take place at the Ripon Club, a quintessential Parsi members-only club, seldom open to the public. Following the discussion, a traditional “Parsi Bhonu” dinner will be available on advance payment.
Cyrus Mistry is a playwright, journalist, and author. He won the 2014 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer. He has also written short film scripts and several documentaries. His play Doongaji House is regarded as a "seminal work in contemporary Indian theater in English." His first novel, The Radiance of Ashes, was shortlisted for the Crossword Prize.
Bachi Karkaria is an Indian journalist and columnist for the Times of India and Mumbai Mirror. She is the Festival Director of The Times of India Literary Carnival and is the author of numerous books including Dare to Dream, the best-selling biography of MS Oberoi, and most recently Mills, Molls, And Moolah. Karkaria is a recipient of the U.S.-based Mary Morgan-Hewitt Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a Jefferson Fellow of the East West Centre, Honolulu.
Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer
At the very edge of its many interlocking worlds, the city of Bombay conceals a near invisible community of Parsi corpse bearers, whose job it is to carry the bodies of the deceased to the Towers of Silence. Segregated and shunned by society, often wretchedly poor, theirs is a lot that nobody would willingly espouse. Yet that's exactly what Phiroze Elchidana, son of a revered Parsi priest, does when he falls in love with Sepideh, the daughter of an aging corpse bearer. Derived from a true story, Cyrus Mistry's extraordinary new novel is a moving account of tragic love that, at the same time, brings to vivid and unforgettable life the degradation experienced by those who inhabit the unforgiving margins of history.