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A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
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A Fine Balance (1995)

by Rohinton Mistry

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,370None606 (4.39)1 / 542
  1. 51
    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (mariamreza)
    mariamreza: Also leads the reader through an emotional roller coaster, experiencing the hope and despair of the characters from poor/ oppressed communities.
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  3. 30
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (JudeyN)
    JudeyN: Set in a different time and place, but similar themes. Examines the different ways in which people respond to hardship and upheaval.
  4. 30
    The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Both novels look at the dire side of life in India, and both are very well written.
  5. 21
    Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (reenum)
  6. 10
    Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry (mcenroeucsb)
  7. 32
    Roots by Alex Haley (mariamreza)
    mariamreza: Also leads the reader through an emotional roller coaster, experiencing the hope and despair of the characters from poor/ oppressed communities.
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    Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie (pdebolt)
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    An Autobiography: the Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi (sruszala)
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    The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri (Heaven-Ali)
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    Salt and Saffron by Kamila Shamsie (Othemts)
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    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (Othemts)
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    Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill (LDVoorberg)
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    Q & A by Vikas Swarup (eugeniajune09)
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English (154)  French (2)  German (2)  Norwegian (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (161)
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
I read this book because I love being immersed in other cultures or time periods vastly different than my own. I definitely experienced both with this book; though I have to say it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Sometimes reading a truly sad tale can be a cathartic experience that momentarily severs one from their trials and stresses and provides some worldly enlightenment or reverent reflection about important events. This novel didn’t do that for me. It simply dumped a pile of misery in my lap and walked away without explanation. That said, the writing is excellent and the main characters are wonderfully developed. It will transport you to 1970s India in the most brutal of ways. I am glad that I read this book, I just felt it was too heavy a dose of wretched sadness when it didn’t have to be that way. ( )
  lizzyg | Mar 10, 2014 |
3.5 stars

It is India in the 1970s. The government calls this time the Emergency. They are trying to convince citizens to get sterilized, so not as many people are being born into the country. Dina is a widow; she was only married for three years when her husband passed away. Though she was still young, she refused to remarry so has to scrimp and save to avoid asking her brother to help her pay her rent on the apartment her husband left her. Ishvar and Omprakash (uncle and nephew) are tailors who come to work for her. Maneck is a friend's son, who needs a place to stay while he attends college, so his rent money also helps out Dina.

I read this a number of years ago and remember it being good. I don't usually reread, but this was chosen for my book club, so I thought I'd give the audio a try. John Lee was the narrator and he is always very good. He really is amazing at every accent! I remembered next to nothing of the book. It is not a happy book, but it was good. It is a long book, and there is a big cast of characters. It's nice to see the four main characters' relationships develop, while also learning about how they came to be where they are "now". ( )
  LibraryCin | Feb 2, 2014 |
2 tailors & widow in small flat in India during the Emergency
4.00
  aletheia21 | Jan 19, 2014 |
This is a very rich, enriching and depressing book. It is realistic to a fault, doesn't fall into the easy trap of sentimentalism, it is unsparing in the suffering that accompanies its characters. The injustices and attacks they suffer are described with an objective (but never detached) tone that makes them even more chilling and infuriating. And through all of this struggling to remain in place (or see the fruit of earlier labor lost and destroyed), the characters never lose the impulse to continue, to reaffirm humanity on the face of a cruel and capricious world. ( )
1 vote vonChillan | Jan 12, 2014 |
A bit of a slog but the horrors you read about are unbelievable. ( )
  Brainannex | Oct 25, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
Rohinton Mistry needs no infusions of magical realism to vivify the real. The real world, through his eyes, is quite magical enough.
 
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Epigraph
"Holding this book in your hand, sinking back in your soft armchair, you will say to yourself: perhaps it will amuse me. And after you have read this story of great misfortunes, you will no doubt dine well, blaming the author for your own insensitivity, accusing him of wild exaggeration and flights of fancy. But rest assured: this tragedy is not a fiction. All is true."

Honore de Balzac, Le Pere Goriot
Dedication
For Freny
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The morning express bloated with passengers slowed to a crawl, then lurched forward suddenly, as though to resume full speed.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 140003065X, Paperback)

With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India. The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers--a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village--will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.

As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:28 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A portrait of India featuring four characters. Two are tailors who are forcibly sterilized, one is a student who emigrates, and the fourth is a widowed seamstress who decides to hang on. A tale of cruelty, political thuggery and despair by an Indian from Toronto, author of Such a Long Journey.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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