Author blends music, life experiences and literature in keynote speech
Audience members were engaged as Neustadt International Prize winner Rohinton Mistry spoke Friday of growing up in Bombay and moving west.
Mistry spoke mostly about his childhood in India and the significance of his father’s record player at his keynote address at the Neustadt Festival. He said he grew up on the sounds of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johannes Brahms and Broadway classics.
Music was a huge part of his life, and listening with his father became a ritual, Mistry said. Mistry even sang “Don’t Fence Me In” and encouraged the audience to sing along.
Eventually, his affinity for western culture led him to move to Canada.
When Mistry moved to Toronto and received his Bachelor’s in English and Philosophy. According to a press release, his first short story, “One Sunday,” won the Canadian Hart House Literary Contest. He said he knew then that he would never move back to India.
“I, of course, having read the right books, knew I couldn’t go home again.”
Mistry is the author of the novel, “Family Matters.” He said he based the characters off of people he has experienced throughout his life, although not all of his characters come from people he has known.
Mistry’s writing caught the attention of Dawn Roberts, who traveled from Oklahoma City to see the award winner’s speech this morning.
“I loved [the speech],” she said. “I loved the way he tied the music into the history of growing up in India.”
The writing process begins by writing every single day. Inspiration can come at any time, Mistry said.
“The only way is to sit at your desk and hope for the best, Mistry said. “I keep my pencil sharp.”