Rohinton Mistry, like many of the characters he draws to life in Swimming Lessons and Other Stories from Firozsha Baag, is an Indian of Parsi descent. Born in 1952, he graduated from the University of Bombay with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Economics before emigrating to Toronto, Canada, in 1975. While working on his second Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Toronto's Woodsworth College, Mistry began to write short stories that illustrated the cultural dichotomies that separate India from the Western world as well as the tensions that divide generations in postcolonial India.
Mistry's work has achieved great success in Canada and the United States as well as in India. In 1983, his first short story was awarded a Hart House Prize for fiction. He won the award again in 1984, as well as Canadian Fiction Magazine's Annual Contributor's Prize in 1985. His novel Such a Long Journey (1991) received Canada's Governor General's Award, the Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best Book, and the W.H. Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Likewise, A Fine Balance (1996) won various merits, including the Giller Prize, the Royal Society of Literature's Winfried Holtby Prize, and the 1996 Los Angeles Times Award for fiction. In 2001, Oprah Winfrey chose A Fine Balance as her November Book Club selection, thus exposing Mistry's work to a vast new and multicultural audience. His stories have been published in various Canadian anthologies and literary journals. Currently, Mistry is working on a third novel, which is forthcoming from Alfred A. Knopf in the United States and from Faber and Faber in England.