“I am not really interested in publicising myself. I realise that the industry is so competitive, so the writer has to promote the book. You can’t be as reserved as someone like Samuel Beckett; he’s a figure I would really like to be. He thought his work would speak for itself and it did,” says Cyrus Mistry, who has often been referred to as reticent as he chooses to stay away from the limelight. Every work of his has either won awards or has been critically acclaimed, from Doongaji House , his first play to Chronicle Of A Corpse Bearer , winner of this year’s DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.
He has worked as a freelance journalist and written screenplays that have won several awards. He wrote his first novel The Radiance Of Ashes in 2005. His next novel Chronicle Of A Corpse Bearer brings to light the community of Parsi corpse bearers, the khandhias, who are relegated to the margins of society in Mumbai.
Rohinton Mistry, his brother, has for long been well-known for his novels. “He went to Canada in 1976 and wasn’t at that time interested in writing. I had already been writing for some time, though he is older than me. He was inspired by some of my work to start writing.”In his novels, each sentence is crafted with care. Every character is well-etched. Cyrus says when writing fiction, everything shouldn’t be pre-planned.
“It is an evolving process. In that sense, one word leads to the next, one paragraph to the next. It’s like the children’s game of passing the parcel, the thing is packed, where you open one wrapping and then the next. As a fiction writer, there is pleasure in discovering where this thing is going. When you are finally left with the last gift, it should be a surprise.”