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

by Rohinton Mistry

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,629210715 (4.37)1 / 718
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English (201)  French (3)  Norwegian (2)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (209)
Showing 1-5 of 201 (next | show all)
Epic story of intertwining lives of multiple castes in 1960's India. A review of the real lives of the various caste members and the impact of the special emergency measures and government corruption on their daily lives.
  sandra.pinkerton83 | Apr 16, 2019 |
A Fine Balance tells the story of India in 1975, during the state of emergency, when the opponents of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (who is never mentioned by name) are jailed and Gandhi’s son, Sanjay Gandhi, spearheads a forced sterilization campaign in an attempt to deal with overpopulation.

The story looks at cultural sexism, religious prejudice, the caste system, and police corruption from the perspective of the poor and lower middle class. It touches on the lives of some wealthier individuals, but only briefly, looking primarily at their opinions of the poor.

The publisher's description states that the novel has “a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens.” Like Dickens, Rohinton Mistry focuses on the underprivileged and like Dickens, his style includes numerous minor characters who keep reappearing throughout his story and plot twists that depend on coincidence.

The title comes from a character referred to as “the proofreader.” He states, “You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair.” The scales seem to weigh heavier on the latter of those two choices, but the book is well worth reading. The ending is particularly engrossing. I couldn't put it down.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul, White Horse Regressions, Hopatcong Vision Quest, and Under a Warped Cross. ( )
  SteveLindahl | Mar 14, 2019 |
The book broke my heart and then stitched the pieces back together in order to break it again. I hate it, in the best way possible. This makes sense, but only in the context of this book. ( )
  Wordbrarian | Mar 5, 2019 |
In a country as vast and varied as India, perhaps only a story that focused on the particulars of very small players could provide the sense of scale appropriate. Dina is a strong-willed widow finding it hard to make ends meet. Maneck is a student at the college seeking accommodation. Ishvar and Om are tailors seeking employment. When their lives intertwine, it is as though fate itself is drawing them together. And piece by piece the quilt of their lives takes shape. But given that it is stitched with misery, injustice, and calamitous bad fortune, it may not be a quilt that anyone would care to use.

Rohinton Mistry sets his many, many pieces in motion and successfully keeps them going through all the changes. Personal joys and tragedies are set off against a backdrop of national events and Emergency. Sometimes it’s a bit clunky how history keeps intruding, but for the most part the stories of Dina, Maneck, Ishvar, and Om sustain our interest and see us through. Whether the Yeatsian fine balance is ever achieved however is an open question. Despair — justified despair — seems all too likely.

Gently recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Feb 28, 2019 |
Such injustice and sadness in the world! Rohinton Mistry is brilliant with his prose otherwise I would never have been able to bear this story. The depths to which he defined his characters brought them alive and made me love them so much. I laughed with them, cried with them, cried for them. "But for the Grace of God..." Listening to this book on my daily commute for the past month made me so grateful to have the life I have. ( )
  TracyRitter | Oct 16, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 201 (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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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
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:31 -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 7 descriptions

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