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A Fine Balance Paperback – 19 Oct. 2006
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'A towering masterpiece by a writer of genius.' Independent
India, 1975. An unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency. Amidst a backdrop of wild political turmoil, the lives of four unlikely strangers collide forever.
An epic panorama of modern India in all its corruption, violence, and heroism, A Fine Balanceis Rohinton Mistry's prize-winning masterpiece: a Dickensian modern classic brimming with compassion, humour, and insight - and a hymn to the human spirit in an inhuman state.
'A masterpiece of illumination and grace. Like all great fiction, it transforms our understanding of life.' Guardian
'Magical.' New York Times
'Astonishing.' Wall Street Journal
What readers are saying:
'One of the most layered and beautifully executed books I've ever read ... Easily one of my all time favourite books!'
'Many say that the mark of a good book is that it stays with you; well, I read this several years ago and I still find myself thinking of the characters ... Beautiful.'
'What a storyteller, what a wide canvas he covers of India ... Wonderful.'
'One of the best and most entertaining books I have ever read ... I can't recommend it highly enough.'
'Often heartbreaking, always evocative ... A book to savour rather than to gallop through.'
'One of the best books I've read ... Not a book for the faint-hearted, but it is a book with a big heart.'
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- Publisher : Faber & Faber; Main edition (19 Oct. 2006)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 624 pages
- ISBN-10 : 057123058X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0571230587
- Dimensions : 12.6 x 3.7 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 3,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
About the authors
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 June 2020
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From the first few pages I felt that I was in the world in which the characters inhabited. I know little about 1970s Indian politics but that didn't matter. Social changes played as an important background but the narrative focused on the effects felt by the individuals rather than the high level shifts in the world. This worked really well and made the book about the characters.
India itself is a huge character in the story and its portrayal is well rounded - we see good, bad and much in between.. The colours and smells range from beautiful to horrific and there is a deep understanding of Indian culture with specific reference to the caste system.
Time moves back and forward as we move between the main characters, exploring their connections to each other and their progression through life.
From a promising start, I found that the story started to drag from about half way through. The book was too long and I found it tedious to finish, taking me far longer than it should have done. I know that life is hard but it would have been good to show the occasional glint of sunshine through all the black clouds.
Worth book to read and I can see why it is highly rated. I'm glad I read it but I won't be reading any other books by this author.
By Rohinton Mistry
A Fine Balance is well written and achingly evocative of the period, the second half of the twentieth century in India.
Tailors, Ishvar Darji and his nephew Omprakash leave their village to escape poverty and seek their fortune in the city, hoping to return rich and successful and rescue their family from crushing poverty and prejudice.
On their train journey they meet Maneck Kohlah, also on his way to the city but to study. Fate has brought them together and they find they are heading for the same place, Maneck to lodge with his mother’s old friend, Dina Dalal and the tailors to work for her.
The story is told very definitely through the characters and the book is packed with well drawn, fascinating characters, convincing, often heartbreaking, always evocative but never over sentimental.
A Fine Balance is not a quick read. The pace is steady, perhaps a bit pedantic at times but definitely worth the time it takes to read.
It is a book to savour rather than to gallop through.
I would certainly read more by this author.
This is a devastating work covering what was occurring in India in two time periods (1950's and 1970's) and it focuses on how this affected the people of all different castes, religions and class.
It is not a cheery novel, far from it and 'a fine island's derives from the balance between despair and hope as told by a character within the book who has a small but significant part to play. There is hope, but it struggles to maintain it's balance with despair and this is perfectly encapsulated in the ending.
What really elevates this book is the fantastic writing. Despite it's subject, it has an easy going narrative which really helps the reader (well, me) bond with these characters and made me feel like I was there with them experiencing everything they did.