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Rohinton Mistry

Author of A Fine Balance

15+ Works 14,200 Members 350 Reviews 105 Favorited

About the Author

Rohinton Mistry was born in Bombay in 1952 and immigrated to Canada in 1975. He began writing stories in 1983 while a student at the University of Toronto. His books recount everyday life in India. Titles include Tales From Firozsha Baag, a collection of short stories, and A Fine Balance, a novel. show more Mistry's first novel, Such a Long Journey, received several awards, including the Governor General's Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book. It was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize and for the Trillium Award. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Eye on Books

Works by Rohinton Mistry

Associated Works

Bad Trips (1991) — Contributor — 233 copies, 6 reviews
Black Water 2: More Tales of the Fantastic (1990) — Contributor — 152 copies, 3 reviews
From Ink Lake: Canadian Stories (1990) — Contributor — 130 copies, 1 review
Story-Wallah: Short Fiction from South Asian Writers (2004) — Contributor — 100 copies, 2 reviews
Rotten English: A Literary Anthology (2007) — Contributor — 76 copies, 1 review
Freedom: Stories Celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2009) — Contributor — 73 copies, 2 reviews
The New Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories (1986) — Contributor — 73 copies, 1 review
Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology (2007) — Contributor — 25 copies
The Oxford Book of Canadian Ghost Stories (1990) — Contributor — 19 copies


Common Knowledge



A Fine Balance Group Read: July 2013 in 75 Books Challenge for 2013 (August 2013)


What a disappointment after Misty’s fantastic initial novel. Family bull, boring and uninspired.
dugmel | 52 other reviews | May 20, 2024 |
[A Fine Balance] is a sweeping drama of four people who unexpectedly end up living together during a tumultuous year, 1975, in India. Dina is a middle-aged widow desperately trying to hang on to her independence, despite her brother's efforts to get her to re-marry. Maneck is a young man in the city to attend college, who left his beautiful mountain town at his parents' behest to try to better his life. The student hostel is so disgusting that he ends up renting a room from Dina, who is a distant family friend. And then there are Ishvar and Omprakash, who are tailors that end up working for Dina out of her apartment. They were also living in a rural town where their family had been on the rise out of their lower caste. But misfortunes keep arising to keep them down. The four will spend a year together during a State of Emergency declared by the Prime Minister that upends life for the lower classes in some truly horrifying and gruesome ways.

The book is grim and has moments of utter despair, pure bad luck, and unfairness. There are despicable characters, horrible deaths, and plenty of squalor. Usually I can't stomach a book like this. However, Mistry somehow balances this with some good, some lighthearted moments, and impressive writing. I was completely invested from the first chapter and just had to see where it was all going to end up. I don't think, in a book like this, it's a spoiler to say that things do not end well for all the characters. It's clear from the get go that a book this realistic will not have a fairy tale ending - though I did keep hoping for one. And I suppose that's where the title comes in. Life is "a fine balance" of hope and despair. In 1970s India, if Mistry's portrayal is at all accurate, this is all too true.
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1 vote
japaul22 | 254 other reviews | Mar 16, 2024 |
India in the 1980s. A sometimes rambling search for meaning, for love amid the ruins of another humanity.
ben_r47 | 254 other reviews | Feb 22, 2024 |
This is an extraordinary second novel (shortlisted for the Booker). Although Mistry has his tics (he loves to throw in a big, unusual word every now and then, among other things), those tics are—I suspect—the bad habit of a young writer searching for his voice. I will be reading his other books soon, I hope, and will be interested to see how his writing evolves. But the book, you ask? In a nutshell, it follows a central core of characters from very different backgrounds thrown together by chance. We learn their individual histories and then follow them in Bombay (unnamed, but clear) during the Emergency, a truly dismal period in the mid/late 1970s. Indira Gandhi, desperate to remain in power, chose to break the law and invoke extraordinary and unlawful powers to run the country as she saw fit, regardless of consequences. This book is about those consequences. Contrived situations are few and Mistry has drawn indelible, human characters, complete with flaws as well as virtues. Some of the circumstances Mistry portrays are brutal and even painful. Yet the book contains a great deal of satisfying and even funny episodes. Mistry takes his epigraph from Balzac—a master whose writing this book resembles in many ways; from Le Père Goriot: “But rest assured: This tragedy is not a fiction. All is True.” Very highly recommended.… (more)
Gypsy_Boy | 254 other reviews | Feb 16, 2024 |


1990s (1)
AP Lit (1)
Asia (1)


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