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A Fine Balance (1995)

by Rohinton Mistry

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8,854245822 (4.36)1 / 822
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.
Recently added byNickEdkins, cyclepath, Wasai, Mia_Morisset, sarahcarli, kent23124, private library
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    JudeyN: Set in a different time and place, but similar themes. Examines the different ways in which people respond to hardship and upheaval.
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    Nickelini: Both novels look at the dire side of life in India, and both are very well written.
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    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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    A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (TeeKay, Othemts)
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    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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    Walking the Bowl: A True Story of Murder and Survival Among the Street Children of Lusaka by Chris Lockhart (LDVoorberg)
    LDVoorberg: Walking the Bowl is nonfiction and set in Zambia, and A Fine Balance is fiction in India, but both books bring humanity (ie street people are REAL people) to lives often overlooked and show that generosity and kindness are important for every circumstance. They have power.… (more)
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Asia (8)
1990s (183)
AP Lit (197)

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English (235)  French (4)  Norwegian (2)  Danish (2)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (245)
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
Set in India in the 1970's, A Fine Balance is an epic tale of four people - a widow, a student, and two tailors - who end up sharing a very small flat during a very difficult political time period. What makes this book so compelling is that by the end you feel that you completely know these four people . . .and you are hoping beyond hope for the best for them every step of the way.

This book was truly right up my alley. Books set in India just fascinate me in general. It is a society so different from our own, and I'm fascinated by the caste system, the religions, the economic despair, and just the totally different culture than our own. A Fine Balance is also very dark. I experienced the gamut of emotion throughout the book as I fell in love with each character, but the characters must contend with challenges that are almost beyond the American imagination. There is that faint hope as you see how the spirit contends with just the hardest of situations, but it's just more realistic than most books.

That being said, I feel very sad that it is over (all 600 pages) because I felt like I knew these characters so well that I just wanted to continue to read about them until there was nothing left to tell. Just fantastic storytelling and character development. ( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
Book Club

Esta obra maestra cuenta la vida de cuatro personas en la India de los años setenta que, forzadas por la necesidad, aprenden a mantener un equilibrio perfecto entre la esperanza y la desesperación.

Estamos en 1975, en una ciudad india junto al mar. El gobierno acaba de declarar el estado de emergencia, y dada la escasez de vivienda cuatro personas se ven obligadas a compartir un pequeño apartamento. Forman un cuarteto especial: Dina, una costurera de cuarenta años viuda desde hace veinte y decidida a no volverse a casar. Maneck, que dejó su pueblo de montaña obligado por sus padres a abandonar el hogar para estudiar en la ciudad. El optimista Ishvar y su sobrino Omprakash, dos sastres que han huido de la terrible violencia de castas que existe en su pequeña aldea de origen.

Unidos solo por el hilo impersonal de la necesidad común, estos cuatro personajes ven cómo sus vidas se entretejen de manera inexplicable e inseparable.La confianza, el humor y el afecto, que crecen gradualmente entre ellos, se convierten en un baluarte contra los rigores y las maquinaciones de la vida diaria, manteniéndolos unidos tanto para lo bueno como para lo malo.
  fewbach | Feb 13, 2023 |
Excellent novel set in 1970s India, when Indira Gandhi was being very strict, about some poor people that keep going through hard times. Sometimes difficult to read but very moving. ( )
  kslade | Dec 8, 2022 |
Beautifully written literary fiction set in India in 1975 during the “state of emergency” in which civil rights were suspended for political purposes. The story follows four protagonists of differing socioeconomic backgrounds who form into an unlikely “family” in their struggle to survive. Themes include political corruption, abuse of power, the passage of time, overcoming differences, poverty, dignity, injustice, memory, and the different facets of change.

Dina, at forty-two, has made her living as a seamstress but her eyes are failing. She desires to retain independence from her controlling family, so she hires two tailors, Ishvar and his nephew Omprakash, from rural India, who have broken away from the traditional caste system at great personal cost. She also takes in a border, Maneck, a college student from the mountains of northern India, to make ends meet. The tale is intricate and complex, flowing forward and backward to provide the backstories of the main characters.

It is a tragedy, a dark and sad tale that does not shy away from describing the many cruelties people inflict upon each other. Fortunately, it also describes acts of kindness. The characterization is stellar, and the author takes his time in developing them. In contrast to many books these days that create primarily unlikeable characters, the main characters in this book are basically good-hearted people trying to make the best of extremely challenging circumstances.

The book feels intimate, and I cared what happened to these people. I also felt I learned a great deal about India, its cultural variety, and its history. The drawbacks were few. It is rather lengthy at over 600 pages and I wish the ending had been as well-crafted as the rest of the book. Overall, I found it touching, heart-breaking, thought-provoking, and memorable. Recommended to those that can handle sad tales of endurance of the human spirit in the face of great hardship. ( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
Here's what I wrote in 2008 about this read: "Mid 1970's Indian life in its complexity and widespread human misery. Most memorable pain: the forced sterilization of one of the characters . . . Forced into fatherlessness." ( )
  MGADMJK | Sep 27, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 235 (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.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mistry, Rohintonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cowper, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Danielsson, UllaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Echevarría, AuroraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Julià, PepTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mulder, ArjenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Post, MaaikeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pujol, RubénTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"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
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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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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.

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