Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Rohinton Mistry Is a Class Act

Rohinton Mistry is a class act: Les Durochères got a letter from him Tuesday, thanking them for awarding him the Prix des Durochères for 2007 to his novel A Fine Balance.

You’ve probably never heard of the prize which comes with no money attached. It’s given each year by our neighborhood book group (most of us live or lived on Durocher avenue) to the best book we’ve read and discussed that year. We choose the winner at a supper in December when there is much laughter, good food and wine as well as some serious talk about books. We consider the 10 books we’ve read during the year (we meet once a month except in July and August.) The books read are frequently in French (8 of us are Francophones, and two are Anglophones) but our taste is eclectic to say the least. Once the winner is chosen one of us writes to him or her with the news about the Prix des Durochères, and we wait to see if we get a reply.

To date we’ve received three letters: Robertson Davies the year we picked The Deptford Trilogy, Yann Martel for Life of Pi, and Mistry. The year we read Blindness by Jose Saramaago one of our number was at the Guadalajara book fair when he was and she presented that year’s letter to him. In the cases when we’ve had responses, I think the writer has been charmed by being read and appreciated by women who have read their work in another language.

The letter from Mistry will go in the archives that one of our number began on a whim shortly after we started. Now more than 20 years later, we’ve collected many photos, a couple of menus, these letters, and memories of books well worth reading.

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