Book 911 Rohinton Mistry – A Fine Balance

I read A Fine Balance back in summer 2005 and I carted it everywhere, despite it being a  650 page novel, it flows with ease and Mistry’s prose is utterly beguiling.

It’s mid seventies India and the government has declared a state of emergency, poverty is rife and people are being killed due to riots. In this political mess two tailors, a university student and a disillusioned widow all end up living together in a house.  All characters come from different social classes and Mistry highlights the differences between each person through flashbacks and the present situation of all four people . That is until the political situation leads to a devastating climax.

Readers beware this is not a novel filled with happiness, each character has his or her own spell of bad luck but Mistry is never self-indulgent and there are quite a few laugh out loud (and even rude) moments in A Fine Balance. Despite this it is a truly addictive novel. What kept me going was the sheer power and simplicity of the writing.  Mistry creates a scene so realistic that you’d imagine every scene in your head perfectly and his way with words is just makes one emote.

For such a thick book I am writing a short review but trust me a lot goes on in this dynamic novel and it’s rather you pick it up. Weirdly enough I have read this author’s other novels (and short story collection) and none of them really live up to this one (although Family Matters comes very close) so if you’re a beginner do read this one first.


4 thoughts on “Book 911 Rohinton Mistry – A Fine Balance

  1. anothercookiecrumbles May 9, 2010 / 8:32 am

    I love this book. It’s one of my favourite books of all times, and I do think a re-read is due. However, I would disagree with you when it comes to reading this first (It was the first Mistry I read as well). Think people should start with Family Matters, and then read Such A Long Journey and finish with this. Such A Long Journey had that fantastic funeral scene which kept me speechless, and made the book amazing for me.

    • deucekindred May 9, 2010 / 9:19 am

      Hmmm I found such a long journey to be quite weak. It sort of lacked the full on punch that the other three books and was inspirational in bits.

  2. Psych Babbler August 18, 2010 / 12:51 pm

    I love this book. It was the first book I read by Mistry and I’ve read every other since. But nothing comes close to this. Yes, it’s quite sad but it really stays with you.

    • deucekindred August 18, 2010 / 2:16 pm

      Well I’ll say it’s my first novel by Mistry and I’ve felt that the others he was written haven’t really lived up to it. Definitely in my top 5 books!

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