Family Matters is troubling, tender, disturbing, and 100% Rohinton Mistry. The title has, of course, a double entendre: family is important, but events in a family have a impact on it. And that’s what happens in this book: a father’s past interferes with his children’s present. It changes the way they see him, care for him. It is also about the inevitable descent into old age and its concurrent loss of dignity and the helplessness of the old. It is about morality… and the power (and corruption) of money.
Here is a summary of the story from the publisher:
Set in Bombay in the mid-1990s, Family Matters tells a story of familial love and obligation, of personal and political corruption, of the demands of tradition and the possibilities for compassion. Nariman Vakeel, the patriarch of a small discordant family, is beset by Parkinsonâ€™s and haunted by memories of his past. He lives with his two middle-aged stepchildren, Coomy, bitter and domineering, and her brother, Jal, mild-mannered and acquiescent. But the burden of the illness worsens the already strained family relationships. Soon, their sweet-tempered half-sister, Roxana, is forced to assume sole responsibility for her bedridden father. And Roxanaâ€™s husband, besieged by financial worries, devises a scheme of deception involving his eccentric employer at a sporting goods store, setting in motion a series of events that leads to the narrativeâ€™s moving outcome.
The only disappointing aspect of the book is the epilogue, which, in my opinion, is totally unnecessary and detracts from the rest of the story. Nevertheless, a highly recommended read.