Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer by Cyrus Mistry is a beautiful love story at its core. Imagine you are walking slowly in an overgrown, abandoned garden, just like Seppy and Phiroze. That is exactly how the book reads. A slow, beautiful walk.
Funny, sad, dark, lyrical, Mistry weaves a tale of love, loss, longing, despair, struggle, and suffering. Chronicling the life of a Parsi corpse bearer, the story takes us through life in Bombay in the 40s overseen by the imposing presence of the Towers of Silence. Mistry has a way with words. His language is poetic and wonderful. But this very way was the only thing that made this book not work as well for me. This is of course a personal opinion. For a narrator who confesses at the very beginning to never be interested in reading or books or school, the language is far too poetic sometimes. Often in the narrative, Mistry writes as Mistry, not as Phiroze and at these junctures the story left me so upset because I wanted to love it and I could not.
But that does not take away from the wonderful writer that Mistry is. If only this story had been narrated by anyone but who the narrator actually was.
The paperback cover features a beautiful detail from an akho garo from a book on Parsi textiles. As always, Aleph never fails us in the way the book looks and feels. The designer’s name unfortunately does not find a place on the cover but full marks to him/her.
Rating: Three Red Rubies out of Five.