Such a Long Journey takes place in Mumbai, Maharashtra, in the year 1971. The novel’s protagonist is a hard-working bank clerk Gustad Noble, a member of the Parsi community and a devoted family man struggling to keep his wife Dilnavaz, and three children out of poverty. But his family begins to fall apart as his eldest son Sohrab refuses to attend the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology to which he has gained admittance and his youngest daughter, Roshan, falls ill. Other conflicts within the novel involve Gustad’s ongoing interactions with his eccentric neighbours and his relationship with his close friend and co-worker, Dinshawji.
Tehmul, a seemingly unimportant and mentally disabled character, is essential in Gustad’s life, as he brings out the tender side of him and represents the innocence of life. A letter that Gustad receives one day from an old friend, Major Bilimoria, slowly draws him into a government deception involving threats, secrecy and large amounts of money. He then, begins the long journey, that sheds new light on all aspects of Gustad’s personal and political life. The novel not only follows Gustad’s life, but also India’s political turmoil under the leadership of Indira Gandhi.
When it was published in 1991, it won the Governor General’s Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, and the W.H. Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award. It was shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize and for the Trillium Award. It has been translated into German, Swedish, Norwegian,Danish and Japanese, and has been made into the 1998 film Such a Long Journey.