## Tuesday, 4 February 2003

### Family matters & λs

#### Listening to:

Handel, organ concerti, op. 7.

Rohinton Mistry, Family matters.

I liked this novel. It’s set in modern Bombay (also known as Mumbai, a fact that has some significance in the course of the novel), and follows the fortunes of an extended family of seven individuals: an old man, his three children, the husband of one of the daughters, and their two children. The novel covers a period of a few months (apart from an extended epilogue that takes place a number of years later), and is thus quite small and self-contained in its scope. This gives the novel time and space to give us quite detailed pictures of each of these characters (as well as a few others from outside the family).

The novel describes a period in the life of this family that is rather stressful (because of the old man’s ill health), and while characters occasionally behave regrettably, they’re all quite human and understandable in their motives. There are no monsters, and even when things look difficult, there’s room for humour and humanity. I’d definitely recommend this novel as a well-crafted character study. The setting adds further interest to the novel. In addition to being in Bombay, the central family are Parsis, Indian practitioners of Zoroastrianism. This has greatest significance in the epilogue, but gives aspects of the novel an important slant. For example, Parsis apparently have an extremely good reputation for honesty in India.

It seems that my browser on this computer (Phoenix) is Unicode compatible, so that all I need to do to get lambda characters is write &lambda; Thus: λ, and again, λ. This is as efficient as LaTeX, given that in LaTeX, you will need to follow the \lambda with a space in most circumstances (as in writing λx.x). Way hey!