For Cyrus Mistry, who recently took up a job at an advertising agency to support his literary career, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature of $50,000 comes as a blessing. In an earlier interview to dna, Mistry rued the conditions in which writers had to function. “I do not have much faith in publishers,” he had said.
Mistry, whose celebrated brother Rohinton Mistry has long overshadowed his work, usually writes about the Parsi community, like his brother. In Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer, Mistry builds a dark yet engaging world of khandiahs – Parsi corpse-bearers. In a novel that spans eight decades, Mistry’s novel is about Phiroze Elchidana, born into the priestly class, who gives up his caste to marry Sepideh, the daughter of a corpse-bearer.
Mistry’s plays The Legacy of Rage and Doongaji House that had fetched him awards, says that the awards were definite incentives. “If I had not won those awards, I might have stopped writing.” He had also written the screenplay for a Gujarati film Percy based on one of his short stories which won the National Film Award in 1991 for the Best Gujarati Film.
While announcing the award, Antara Dev Sen, jury chair of the prize, said, “A fantastic storyteller, Mistry offers a beautiful novel rich in historical detail and existential angst, gently questioning the way we look at justice, custom, love, life and death.”
Mistry lives with his family in Kodaikanal.