A Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryA Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

A Fine Balance

byRohinton Mistry

Paperback | April 5, 1997

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A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry’s stunning internationally acclaimed bestseller, is set in mid-1970s India. It tells the story of four unlikely people whose lives come together during a time of political turmoil soon after the government declares a “State of Internal Emergency.” Through days of bleakness and hope, their circumstances – and their fates – become inextricably linked in ways no one could have foreseen. Mistry’s prose is alive with enduring images and a cast of unforgettable characters. Written with compassion, humour, and insight, A Fine Balance is a vivid, richly textured, and powerful novel written by one of the most gifted writers of our time.
Rohinton Mistry is the author of three novels, all of which have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and a collection of short stories, Tales from Firozsha Baag. His first novel, Such a Long Journey, won the Governor General's Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, and the SmithBooks/Books in Canada First Novel Award. ...
Title:A Fine BalanceFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:736 pages, 8.38 × 5.39 × 1.55 inShipping dimensions:8.38 × 5.39 × 1.55 inPublished:April 5, 1997Publisher:McClelland & StewartLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0771060548

ISBN - 13:9780771060540


Rated 5 out of 5 by from A good story One of my favourite books for sure. A rich, detailed story that will capture your heart even if it breaks along the way.
Date published: 2018-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My heart. This was a trek to get through, but well wellll worth it. I found it to be such a heart wrenching story, but very intriguing; eye-opening. I wanted everything to come together and to end with a happy ending.. I guess it was wishful thinking. My heart desperately felt for the characters. I absolutely fell in love with Mr. Mistry's writing. He's an exceptional talent and I will most definitely be revising this book and his other works in the near future.
Date published: 2018-07-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from decent book I found this story very interesting in the history and lifestyles in India.
Date published: 2018-06-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Incredibly Sad and Incredibly Real This novel is a big one,748 pages. This novel is all about India; the good, the bad and the ugly. It may be that the title of the novel depicts those qualities; however, as the story progresses it seems like there is anything but a "fine balance". It's tragic ending pretty much obliterates the bright spots and the empowering moments of reconciling suppression. Incredibly sad; however, it may be a realistic portrayal of all the contrasts of India.
Date published: 2018-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liking it so far this is our book club book for the month, really enjoying it. Definitely a hard read. What people go thru to survive.
Date published: 2018-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredibly written, inspiring, disheartening and worth the read This book took me on an inexplicable journey and became my new favourite piece of writing. Rohinton Mistry has a style of writing unlike anyone I've read before and this book gave me chills on nearly every page. Definitely worth taking the time to read. #plumreview
Date published: 2018-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from incredibly good Well written and I loved how the four characters lives intertwined. Also, great perspective on India during the time of The Emergency
Date published: 2017-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my faves! This is truly one of my favourite books! Shocking for me to read about how people live in different parts of the world.
Date published: 2017-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life changing This book is life changing. Must read for those who want to learn about the world and different cultures. Inspires empathy with dignity.
Date published: 2017-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from one of the finest books i've ever read one of the finest books I've ever read
Date published: 2017-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent, but not an easy read This is a book that comes very highly rated; it is worthy of every star. This book is about life in 1970’s era India. I will be the first to admit my knowledge about this country and the atrocities surrounding the events occurring at that time is lacking. So I greatly appreciated the opportunity to learn about this area of the world. It is not easy to read about the everyday suffering of citizens, the corruption of the government nor the inequalities of the caste system. “A Fine Balance” follows the events and happenings in the lives of 4 people; Dina, a widow, Maneck, a student from the mountains, Ishvar, a tailor who moves to the city to make his “fortune” and Omprakash, his nephew. The lives of these 4 diverse characters intersect, and we get to see how they grow and change because of their relationships. We are also introduced to their family members, friends and enemies. All of these details greatly enrich the story of loss, survival and hope that is being told. I particularly loved the symbolism of the quilt...those images will stay with me for a long while. Once read, it cannot be unread, and you will be forever changed by the stories of these lives. Some coped surprisingly well with misery, and others did not. I would only recommend this book to people who enjoy historical fiction and are not necessarily after a happy ending. You won’t find that here. 5 Stars, but certainly not an easy read.
Date published: 2017-08-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Fine Balance A bit hard to get into, but decent once you do.
Date published: 2017-07-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Well-written but brutal This book! I had people recommend it to me many times over the years so finally read it. It was well-written, yes. But really depressing. Bad things happen, then worse things, then worse things, then it gets a little better and you think there's some hope, but no, then worse things happen. This is a large book of very sad things. I did learn some interesting things about India though.
Date published: 2017-07-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Little sad but overall good book
Date published: 2017-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Really enjoyed this after reading Familt Matters
Date published: 2017-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read! I randomly stumbled upon this book and instantly fell in love with it. It is so well written. I think I have read it four or five times already. Definitely recommend it!
Date published: 2017-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Moving and Compelling This book will leave a deep impression on you. One of the finest novels I have ever read.
Date published: 2017-06-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Beautiful and poetic I was given this book as a gift and although it's not really my genre, I learned a lot about the author's country. It's very poetically written but sometimes I had to put it down and start again. It was a book you really had to focus on, not a simple, easy read.
Date published: 2017-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Read I got this book a few months ago, and since then I have read it about three times. It is quite a heavy read, but it's worth it. The book is well written and makes you see life in a different way. The detail is well written, making it easy for you to see everything the author is saying.
Date published: 2017-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sad but beautiful The story is compelling, great read.
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from well-written, yet sad. Read it in school and one of the most heart-felt books I have read.
Date published: 2017-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb! This is an incredible read. The characters, the historical framework, and the writing itself are such that I could not put it down. Sad but just so readable.#plumrewards
Date published: 2017-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent book, extremely sad This book was written very well but is extremely sad.
Date published: 2017-05-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Classic I go back to this book every so often because it's such a satisfying read. The characters are rich and the writing is so evocative of place, complete with sights, sounds and textures. One of the best books written about modern India.
Date published: 2017-05-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eye Opener This book, in incredibly sad, and the parts that are nor incredibly sad are horrifically unfair. But those stories, the sad and unfair are the stories that have to be told. While this book may not be directly a true story, these things do happen. It is a book I think everybody should read, it will put your life into prospective.
Date published: 2017-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Like it Fantastic story. I recommend this book
Date published: 2017-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book Very easy to read book - rich character development. Long book but compelling the whole way through.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow Really puts into perspective what the characters had to go through during that period of time. A lot of emotions reading this book.
Date published: 2017-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A book I will never forget reading. "A Fine Balance" is an amazing book. It's a big book and takes a while to read, but at no point did I want to stop reading.This story of 4 people living in and caught up in the political machinations of 1970's India, will stun, and sicken you at times. And you will never forget it. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A book that will keep you'll keep thinking of long after you read it. I picked this book up on a whim at a garage sale not really knowing anything about the book, its author or India in the 1970's (time frame the book is set). I found this novel to be really well written with engaging characters while providing an important lesson about India and its society. As some other reviewers have written this is a very sad book. At the end of the book I was thoroughly saddened that the four main characters are worse off than they were at the beginning of the novel, however this kept the book in my mind long after I was done reading it. My one criticism of the novel was the lack of hope/redemption/satisfactory conclusion to it. Not that the author is required to end the novel on an optimistic note, but it left me wondering what should I do with this new knowledge about India. From this novel it seems the author has a very bleak outlook on India and left me with the impression that issues brought up in the novel are a lost cause and there is nothing anyone can do it about it. However overall the novel was a good read and I'd recommend it and probably even read it again.
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Challenging I rarely read books as long as this but I read an interview with the author in which he said he started out intending to write a short story. Knowing he hadn't planned for the book to be as long as it is made me confident that I wouldn't be reading a bunch of padding, which I find with a lot of contemporary novels of similar length. This is an incredibly moving book. It earns its length and is emotionally devastating.
Date published: 2017-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from All time favorites One of my top reads. This is a novel about life, it's fortunes and misfortunes, about karma and humanity. When I finished this book I had to just lay there and think, of what an unfair yet orderly place life could be. Be prepared to get teary eyed and emotional. Amazing book!
Date published: 2017-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved This Book! Hands down, this is my favourite book I have ever read!
Date published: 2017-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stunning Book I read this book when it first came out and have continued to re-read it again every few years. It is still one of my all-time favorite reads. Gripping and beautifully written.
Date published: 2017-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sad, yes, but deeply human This is one of those books that lingers. If you are looking for a romantic comedy, you should probably keep looking. This is the kind of book you commit to, live with, and carry a piece around with you in your soul for months after the last page is turned.
Date published: 2016-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite book of all time I read this when it first came out and have never read another that would knock it off first place. It's beautifully written, totally compelling, and provides insight into the lives of people I would never normally encounter.
Date published: 2016-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites One of my favourite books I've ever read. Heartbreaking, brilliant, compelling. Although many people commented that it was sad, and in many parts it is, to me that is what makes it different from other books and more real.
Date published: 2016-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely perfect. Remarkable writer and book. I have nothing but praise for this book. Beautiful. Haunting. Sad. Compelling. Interesting. Educational.
Date published: 2016-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unforgettable view of India The most well-written book I have ever read! What a remarkable writer! What a gift to us, the readers, and to his country and culture.
Date published: 2016-06-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read This book was fantastic--highly depressing at times, but fantastic. It's nice to read such an involved novel by yet another wonderfully talented Canadian author! Despite cringing a little when Oprah's seal of approval was inevitably stamped upon it, I'm glad I didn't shy away: yes, there are a number of story lines to work out in your head. Yes, it can jump around from time to time and the language can make it a tad confusing but the stories are so complete--following many through their entire lives--and so brilliant at sharing time between victories and tragedies, that it's easy to become immersed in the very real issues of the era in a land that seems so far away. The story seemed effortless for Mistry and if you're trying to check a few more Canadians off your list of 'to reads', I'd recommend doing so with this one!
Date published: 2015-03-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Big Book Why do people write big books?? This one is 731 pages long. Where do people think we are, in Victorian England? Come on! No one has time for that now. We have to devote our time to our I phones, our earphones. We don't pay attention to the person across from us in a restaurant, and it is a very good thing he/she has an I phone too, so we don't have to be polite. This book comes from another era, not ours. Too long, too much. No novel should be more than 100 pages.
Date published: 2014-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceptional. This really is a superbly written story. The character development, relationships, description of people-places-culture - all written more beautifully than I've ever experienced. Nothing more to be said - simply a beautifully told story.
Date published: 2014-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deeply moving I highly recommend this book although it's not for the faint hearted. I read it when I returned from a trip to India so the backdrop was fresh in my mind. I was so moved by this simple story of friendship, trust, tragedy, hope and fate. The story is so well written that I felt like I knew the characters and I missed them when I finished the book.
Date published: 2014-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous A fine balance took me on their journey. I cried and laughed. But I cried more at the end.
Date published: 2014-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous A wonderful book with strong characters whose lives intersect in interesting and surprising ways. A book that was difficult to put down as you get so invested in the lives of the characters.
Date published: 2014-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As good the 2nd time around. As Heart wrenching and tragic as it is warm and funny. Was as good reading it a second time.
Date published: 2014-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As good the 2nd time around. A Fine Balance is beautiful, sad and enlightening. The four main characters endure heartbreaking lives, but hope continues throughout the story. I couldn't put it down and wished it would not end. Likely the best book I've ever read.
Date published: 2013-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As good the 2nd time around. This was a mesmerizing book. It was so sad at times, but also happy when people overcame adversities. Would definitely recommend this book! A long story but well worth it!
Date published: 2013-10-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Fine Balance This book though written in beautiful prose, with an engrossing story, failed to capture my heart. With a "glass is half full" theme continuously shoved down our throat against a background of helpless chaos, I am left gutted, tired and fearing our lack of control over anything that could be claimed as destiny. Any balance achieved is cut short by unwitting change. Why read 500 pages of what we all face with each morning's awakening. Live for the moment and feel entitled to nothing. I need books with a little more hope.
Date published: 2013-03-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from All Downhill From Here. * SPOILERS* I found the first half of the book really interesting. Although it had it's share of tragedy, the author did in fact keep a balance within the plot. In the second half of the book however, it almost seems like he didn't know how to resolve his story, so he just decided to kill and maim about 80% of his characters. I can guarantee that nothing you hope for will happen in this book, and I would only recommend it to someone who wants to slug their way through a fairly slow book only to be left thoroughly depressed and unsatisfied in the end.
Date published: 2012-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Top 10! before I read this book, I was reading Nicholas Sparks, Meg Cobat, and Sophie Kinsella. So in other words; chic-lits. My Aunt came over one day and gave A Fine Balance to me as a present. She told me to read up to page 60 before quitting. She said if I did not like by the time I got to that page I wouldn’t have to read it anymore. Well, I gave this book a shot and was instantly swept away. This book is like no other book I’ve read. It’s a complex read with complex meaning in the simplest form of writing. I enjoyed this book so much and felt as though I learned so much from it. It was a true eye opener that all these events actually occurred in a country that is the country my parents grew up in. This book has really changed my style for reading and has opened new doors for me. I will be forever thankful to my aunt for giving me this book and whenever I get the chance it is the book I always recommend or give as a gift.
Date published: 2012-03-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An enjoyable page-turner! Bringing the reader on an illuminating journey of the caste system and the inherent struggles of those in the lower echelons, Rohinton Mistry captures both the triumph and defeat of the human spirit. From the lives of a struggling widow, a boy coming into manhood and a pair of aspiring tailors- the story captures their joy and their despair in a flowing narrative that compels you to turn the page.
Date published: 2011-06-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A sad story, but well-written and beautifully detailed I really enjoyed this book, but like another reviewer, I found it incredibly sad. Unfortunately, this was the way of life in India in that era (and likely still the same today). It made me feel all kinds of emotions very vividly, and opened up my eyes to the way of life on the other side of the world.
Date published: 2010-05-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from stuck on this one It took me a very long time to read this book, almost a year. I could not get into it at all and found myself only picking it up when I had nothing else to read. I found it dragged on endlessly, until I got to the last few chapters. Then I couldn't put it down. So I'm on the fence about it because it really wasn't worth reading the whole book and only enjoying the last few chapters. And I can't even say it was enjoying because it was so sad in the end.
Date published: 2010-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not a Happy Ending in Sight I have never in my life read a book so full of despair, every time you think there is hope and your spirits lift you turn the page and you get crushed by the reality of life. And yet I could not stop reading “A Fine Balance “ or stop turning the pages so fast. The book tells the story of four different people who struggle through life in India during the 1947 Emergency called by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Dina Dalal, Ishvar Darji, his nephew Omprakash and Maneck . Dina comes from a well to do family, her struggle is for independence so she does not have to rely on her brother to live Ishvar and Omprakash struggle , and I have to say the most, to overcome their Chamar — Caste and the status of being untouchables . Their story is heart breaking and haunting and just plain WRONG, makes me angry to think some people have to go through what they went through. And Maneck who never had to go through a hard day in his life struggles with his identity, his relationship with his father and the feeling that he can’t measure up to his father’s expectations. Each of these characters have a different struggle and I often wanted to smack some sense in Dina , Maneck and Ishvar because I felt some of the struggles they went through could have been avoided and are unnecessary but none the less felt for them and wanted them to succeed . Not a lot of books leave me thinking beyond a week after reading and this book did. The characters came to life and I felt their pain beyond the pages and I felt they were real people and I wanted them to be happy . It’s been 3 weeks since I read it and the story still haunts me. This book is cruel and depressing and AMAZING, a life-changing read, and one that I would be truly sorry to see anyone miss out on. You have to, HAVE TO.
Date published: 2010-01-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Didn't Like it, Didn't Hate It I can count on one hand the number of books I don't like, it's just really hard for me not to be able to find something I like about a book- but I'm stuck on the fence with this one. There were parts that I laughed at, enjoyed, and felt contented about, but then as hope seemed to glimmer brighter, the clouds came out and the good was just swept out from under the characters feet. It just seemed that every time things went their way, the universe kicked them in the face. I understand that this isn't a "feel good" book. It's sad, it's dark. The setting is a place that has seen nothing but horrible turmoil in the past one hundred years. But still. Everything just made me mad- especially the ending. I like books like this, I like the ones that throw the dark side in your face and acknowledge the truth that the world isn't a bright, shiny place where everything works out for everyone because it's supposed to. But this one really just irritated me. Maybe it's because I wasn't in the mood for it, but I felt like I should read it, or maybe it's because it just went on and on and on (700+ pages), or maybe it's because it should have ended instead of going into Chapter whatever: Family Planning, or maybe it's because injustice just really really pisses me off and that's all this book had to offer- I don't know. ****SPOILERS**** There were parts I liked and a lot I didn't, Maneck's suicide I found truly anticlimactic, Om and Ishvar becoming beggars I found unnecessary, Dina losing everything she had fought for for so long was just depressing, and some of the details (I really don't want to say which ones) I found a bit creepy. It's probably me though, because I liked the overall message, just not how it was presented.
Date published: 2009-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a touching novel This book will make one appreciate everything that they have!Never have such hardships faced by the less fortunate been put into such vivid descriptions the way the author of this book did. This story is so amazingly written and I definately think its a book that everyone needs to read!
Date published: 2009-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Depressingly Good Takes you there and you will revisit it in your head many times.
Date published: 2009-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Perfect Circle. Truly great writing can be defined by continuity and recognition, and Rohinton Mistry achieves both to perfection in "A Fine Balance". The story itself is a gripping tale of a widow, two tailors, and a college student trying to make sense of an ever changing India and at the same time try to live their lives every single day in normalcy and simplicity. Mistry reminds us all, especially those of us from a Western civilization, that there is in fact nothing easy about life. That for some, finding a place to sleep can be as difficult as winning the lottery. That no matter how steadily your life is going in one direction, it can very easily and quickly turn in another. The difference is all in the willingness to adapt to that change. This theme is continual throughout the course of the book; that we must all accept the highs and lows that are naturally bound in the discourse of living. The major caveat is that 1970's India was a much more radical place, filled with civil unrest and corruption. Those who chose to go outside the boundaries of that society, were set up for an experience that they never anticipated. Mistry's cyclical style also is immersed in his plot development. Key individuals, moments, objects, etc. are never seen just once, and for a novel to be 700 pages and have the reader still recognize them, is a testament to the strength of this book and this author. In my eyes, there has never been a title that defines a book better. Everything is centered around "A Fine Balance", and Mistry does not make that a challenging task for the reader to discover. He is not trying to pressure his audience to understand how much more difficult life was in 1970's India (though it is quite apparent regardless), but more so he is trying to have his audience understand key life lessons about how to never allow misfortune and bad circumstance shroud the good that surrounds being alive. Even those who have nothing, or have had everything they care about taken from them, still manage to appreciate the things that matter. If for nothing else, read "A Fine Balance" to remind yourself of the simple truths that I'm sure you know, but so often forget.
Date published: 2009-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW This book revolves around people's lives in India during Indira Ghandi's rule and how they intertwine. This was an amazing read and while there is alot of tragedy here , I found the main characters resiliency to survive, no matter what the odds the balance in this.. This is so well written, from page 1 that it is a very hard book to put down. I read this book over a year ago and it still stays with me. Very much an eye opener, it changed the way I view certain things in society . So many things we take for granted are out of so many others control.
Date published: 2009-04-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heartbreakingly beautiful This is a tale about four ordinary people struggling to survive in mid-70s India at the time when Indira Gandhi ruled and later declared a state of internal emergency inspite of a court order calling for her resignation. During the Emergency civil liberties were suspended and birth control was mandated throughout the country. The story revolves around Dina Dilal, a 40ish seamstress widow who has spent all her life trying to escape her domineering and self-righteous older brother. She takes in a boarder at her apartment, Maneck Kolah, a college student whose parents have sent him to the city to get a degree. Then she hires two tailors, Ishvar and his 17 yr old nephew, Omprakash, to do piece work for her and whom she later allows to live in her place. Despite all their neverending troubles, the four develop into something like a family and lean on each other in times of extreme poverty and hardship. I highly recommend this. It is very well-written (I expected nothing less from a multi award-winning novel), and 'though you may find it too heartbreaking and utterly depressing, it will make you understand what life in third world countries was like during those times (or even during the present time), from the point of view of the homeless, the hungry, or people who have absolutely nothing. Then it will make you think how fortunate your life has become.
Date published: 2009-01-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An eye opener I read this book several years ago and loaned it to a co-worker and never saw it again. One read through was enough for me. I found it a harrowing experience. India is a place that I have always wanted to visit. I guess that was the draw for me to read it. The characters are so believeable that you can' t help but root for them in their struggle for survival. For anyone who needs a reality check this the humbling read that they need. I found myself depressed after reading it. Despite that though I still feel that the characters are telling a story that needs to be told.
Date published: 2008-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Book Ever! I still love this book - I cried so hard I sobbed...fastest 700 page read I ever had! It is truly India - I have been and it was so similar to what I experienced.
Date published: 2008-10-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Brilliant yet sad My best friend recommended this book to me after she read it for a school project. I was at first iffy about reading it, because I knew it was going to be what I call a "heavy" read. Finally, I read it, and I am so glad that I did. This book is amazing,although it isn't for those who are easily upset. It goes into great detail about everything. While reading it, I couldn't help but wish the next chapter would bring better luck to the main characters, but it's not such a book. It's about struggles, hardship, pretty much what real life is all about. It is a must read to anyone who likes a good work of fiction, that we all know has some truth behind it.
Date published: 2008-09-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Extremely depressing, but well written While this book is well written and very engaging, it's also one of the most depressing stories I've ever read. The ending caused me such despair and disappointment, I threw the book on the floor (I've since picked it up and put it back on my book shelf). I don't recommend this book to pessimists; it will just drag you further down. But there's no escaping the fact that this book kept me interested, invested, and involved throughout the entire story. For that reason, I rate it a 4.
Date published: 2008-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved it!! One of my fav books!!! I was hooked from the first page. A must read for anyone. It really opened up my eyes to the world and the lives of the people around me.
Date published: 2008-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A True Masterpiece Every so often a book comes along that you cannot put down - this is one of them. So beautifully written it demands an emotional attachment with all the characters. Their stories, trials and tribulations will remain with the reader long after finishing the book. I would highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2008-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbelievable a book I could read over and over again. this is a masterpiece.
Date published: 2008-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Long but fascinating I had to read this for a grade 12 ISU comparisson essay. The book is long. At first I thought HOW am I going to read this? But after reading the first few chapters, I couldn't put it down. THe book is beauituflly written, and well worth a read. The characters come out of the pages and are almost alive. THe evens seem as though they are occuring around you, but you just can't see them ...
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eye Opening A truly enjoyable read. Will really make you think about the world and the experiences of people. Uplifting and tragic all at once.
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What an Amazing Story! This book has now become by favorite book of all time! The story was absolutely amazing. The characters were wonderful. It was one of those books that could make you laugh, cry and get angry....full of emotion!!! I couldn't put this book down. This is definately a must read.
Date published: 2007-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Long, but worth every minute! I was sucked into the story and the lives of the characters. You never knew what new hardship they will have to face due to their circumstances or position in society. The story had me longing for a better life and condition for the main characters. It also gave me a better understanding of what life was like for people outside of Canada and I developed a better understanding of the caste system in India. The ending shocked and saddened me. I had to go online to google the ending, I couldn't believe what I read!
Date published: 2007-08-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Don't put it down! This book will change how you look at things. Mistry has a real gift for making you love the characters, identify with them and to appreciate so much about your own life. This book is an incredibly rich gift.
Date published: 2007-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Story This was the first book I read by Rohinton Mistry and have since read all his books. Like the others, this book takes you on a well crafted journey that winds through current and past events effortlessly, picking up segments that make you understand the characters without having to explicitly spell them out. The heart wrenching adversity faced by the characters reminds us that life is not easy but yet they persevere. This book will probably not leave you with a warm glow in your heart but it will stay with you and I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2007-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully written, historically interesting, fas I love being swept away into another country, world and/or reality. Reading for me is not only for entertainment but for education and blissful escape. Rohinton Mistry gives me satisfaction on all these levels with "A Fine Balance." Absolutely brilliant, rich and satisfying. The story, characters and adventures are clearly and beautifully drawn. The reader is captivated by this messy, horrifying, cruel and beautiful world that is India.
Date published: 2007-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read Changes your view on life. What strength of character.
Date published: 2007-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Novel! This novel has fantastically intricate relations between a myriad of characters, it beautifully describes settings and evokes a turmoil of emotions in the reader. This will, be one of the best book you will ever read!
Date published: 2007-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A novel that will never be forgotten Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance is a novel full of happiness, sadness, adventure and even love. It teaches the reader about the struggles of life, and how love/empathy play a large role in our lives. Mistry is by far one of the best Authors of our time and the tears that were shed for this novel will always be remembered.
Date published: 2007-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from To be read more than once One of the best books I have read in years! Mistry's novel captivated me. I eagerly read through to the last page and yet I was sad to have arrived there; in a way, I didn't want this novel to end. Mistry creates characters that I wanted to return to again and again as they became very real, yet the location and culture of the book was new to me. The setting and situations are shocking, the book is eduational, but moreover, the characters are universally appealing.
Date published: 2006-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Left me with a heavy heart! This was one of the most impactful books I have ever read. While slow and somewhat uneventful at times, you learn that those times are for you to become "attached" to these characters and their way of life which makes their heartbreaking journey & cruel, but very real, experiences that much more impactful.
Date published: 2006-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant author - a new favourite Rohinton Mistry succeeded again in creating a wonderful tale full of vibrant characters struggling in a less than perfect world duing desparate times. Despite the long length, it is a page turner where you cant wait to learn what will happen next. An instant classic!
Date published: 2006-10-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Shocking A Fine Balance was an eye opener. I became attached to the characters and felt sorrow or happiness as they did. The book was written in such a way that it forced the reader to put themselves in the characters shoes which was a huge culture and lifestyle shock. It was fantastic to escape day to day life and begin to understand the ways of life in India. Definatly reccomend this book to any one with an open mind. ENJOY!!!
Date published: 2006-08-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing A Fine Balance depicts what life is like in India. The book is set around 1972, and focuses on a particular family and their struggles to stay together. This is one of the best books I have ever read. After reading this book, I found that I was truly grateful that I live in a first world country and have a nice house and food to come home to everyday.
Date published: 2006-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Phenomenal Book! This is one of my all time favorite books. Rohinton Mistry's superb writing transports the reader to India. It's as if the reader is standing in the middle of the incredible unfolding events. The characters are some of the most memorable I have ever read; ones of great strength and spirit. It is a deeply touching story about humanity, compassion, and love. I cried, I laughed and when I finished reading, I started from the beginning again. An incredibly moving piece of fiction.
Date published: 2006-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Book I absolutely loved this book. It gave me an insight into another culture that gave me much more appreciation for the Indian culture as a whole and the caste system, which in some ways, is similar to our own "class" system. The story was beautifully woven with humour, humanity and man's inhumanity to man - how people help each other out even in the best and worst of times - I highly recommend this book. In fact, loved the book so much I went out and purchased another of Roninton Mistry's novels - "Family Matters" - although I must say "A Fine Balance" is a superior read over the second choice. I have recommended it to many of my friends and I hope that they enjoy it as much as I - I was sad when I turned the last page - I just wanted the story to go on and on. Thank you Rohinton Mistry!
Date published: 2006-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love This Author !! I have read all of his books and love his writing ! These books take you to a different culture, and makes you realize how fortunate we are. Absolutely must reads for everyone, you won't be sorry ! Wish he would write another book !
Date published: 2006-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My All Time Favorite I was transported into another world,. hardly believing it was a mere 34 years ago....The entire story shows abject poverty,unbelievable hardship , but never does the author leave you feeling helpless or hopeless. There was always a feeling of hope and redemption. The story reveals the true meaning of friendship, accepting your lot in life without complaint and believing in others. Even at the end, with the two reduced to the lowest of the low, there was hope. They visited their friend in her home and in a rare bit of humor, uses her brothers dishes on the beggars. You are pulled into the caste system, the poverty and the hopelessness of the time in India. One that bears re-reading.
Date published: 2006-06-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A must read I loved this book and could hardly put it down from the minute I picked it up. It was a truly touching story and i fully recomend this book to anyone.
Date published: 2006-06-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Absolutely Great! wonderful book, beautifully written...
Date published: 2006-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A sumptuous read Rohinton Mistry's novel, A Fine Balance, offers a deep, intricate and complex story about the precarious way that life unfolds in Calcutta, from 1975-1984. The political upheaval that this country experienced during that period punctuates and illuminates the personal triumphs (few) and tragedies (many) that each of the characters survive. It iis an astonishing tale, baroque, operatic and exquisitely told, much like the sumptuous colours of Indian silk. and other cloth that the tailors Om and ishvar sew. Often bleak, sometimes funny, enraging and always tender. I loved this book and have been thinking about it for days.
Date published: 2006-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing book best ever a fine balance is a book that took my breath away and also a book that was so well written that i didnt want it to end even though it was 700 pages long it was worth the langth....when you finish reading a fine balance you feel like you could get up and fly to india and meet all of the characters.. it was a book that will stay with my forever and also a book that i will be continueing to read for years too come.
Date published: 2006-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply a Masterpiece Mistry's "A Fine Balance" is nothing short of a masterpiece. The novel beautifully tracks the lives of four individuals and manages to reach out to readers that have never experienced the conditions of 1970s India, yet the readers become absobed in the book and the lessons in the book forever become ingaved in the readers' minds. The book has the power to transform one's life by causing the reader to re-evaluate one's values and perspectives on life.
Date published: 2006-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my top ten This is one of my favorite books of all time. Even though it is fairly long, I didn't want it to end. The story is wonderful and heartbreaking.
Date published: 2006-06-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Depressing but I guess it's an eye opener I found this book depressing to read because it was so dark. I've never been to India but I know that class discriminations exists. If you would like to view India for it's dark side, I would suggest reading this book,but don't expect it to raise your spirits, because for me, motivation to finish reading the book was bleak.
Date published: 2006-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Book You'll Never Forget Since Oprah has picked this book for her book club, it seems a little redundant to write a review. Nonetheless, this has to be one of my favourite books of all time. It is rich in the culture of India and exposes the outrageous 'rule' of Indira Ghandi and the influence of her idiot son. Although the politics are evident, they are woven into the lives of the very real people Mistry has created. The characters are full bodied and we care about them and their lives. Read this book - you can almost smell the spices, and yes, the slums.
Date published: 2006-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stunning. Rohinton Mistry does a beautiful job weaving the stories of four individuals. By far one of the most profound novels I have ever read, and an education on India.
Date published: 2006-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating, Loved it all I finished this book over 2 months ago and I cannot stop thinking about it. The author draws you into the characters lives so well that I feel that they are my friends and now I miss them. This is an excellent book to read this summer. Enjoy!
Date published: 2006-05-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Two Thumbs Up!! This is an absolutely amazing book...Rohinton Mistry is a great author who captivates his reader. After reading this book, I read all his other novels and I have nothing but the best reviews. As a reader you visualize the characters, the setting, and the emotions of the novel. I would recommend his books to anyone who enjoys books of lifes hardships and truimphs.
Date published: 2006-05-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful. Worth 2nd Read I read this book a few years ago. I had lent it out never to receive back. For my birthday this year I received another copy. I was thrilled to reread it. The author grabs your attention from page 1 and hold you till the end. I enjoyed as much the 2nd time and I did the first time read. Well worth the money!!!
Date published: 2005-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Haunting and Beautiful This is a book that stays with you long after you put it down.
Date published: 2005-09-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from very moving This book took me a VERY long time to read but it was totally worth it! The beginning is amazing! Moving and shocking, it really opens up your eyes to the world and its problems. About half way through there are some dull parts and a little pointless information. But the remainder of it is simply stunning! Overall A Fine Balance is awesome and I absolutely recommend it.
Date published: 2005-08-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Unforgettable? Yes. But not so good. I was looking forward to engaing myself into this book however I found it to be one of the most depressing novels I've ever read. You are drawn into the lives of all the characters but the tale seems to be so drawn out. I enjoyed the writing style and how it depicts India during that period, but that's all that really kept me interested in the novel.
Date published: 2005-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's crazy...but a fantastic book! Even though I found this book to be a little of a slow start, I soon got into it! I found at one point I couldn't put it down...wondering what would happen next..how some of the people would get out of the situation they were put in! By the end, i was completely captured, wondering how some gov't could run the way they did...how people could treat the lower class like they did! This is definatley a book to pass onto others to read!
Date published: 2005-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! The first novel I have read by Mistry, certainly not my last! Being familiar with some Indian politics and history, I never expected to react the way I did to this novel. As I read, I felt as though I went through a multitude of feelings experienced by the characters- happiness, sorrow, misery, gratitude, fear, anger, etc. I found I was glued to the book for a week. Once I finished, I longed for more.
Date published: 2005-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Moving and Motivating I read this book as a book report for school recently, and it has vastly changed the way I think. The novel is written with such clarity and voice. It is filled with raw emotion and emapthy for humankind. I was completely unaware of India's history and culture. The country was shroud in the mists of irnorance. This book has opened my eyes to human suffering and has motivated me in ways that are undescribable. A must read. This book has the potential to change your life.
Date published: 2005-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Touching Story I loved this book and could not set it down. We are dropped into the lives of our two main characters and follow the story well. I felt as though I was going through every experience with them. Rohin Minstry writes beautifully and is very descriptive and characteristic. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and will not forget this book.
Date published: 2004-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You'll Never Forget It I knew limited facts about the history of the setting and found this book a gem because you get to feel what people of that time and place are feeling and thinking. It's also interesting because it exposes you to different classes in that society (rich, poor, powerful, unemployed, disabled, etc.)Very few movies or books can make you feel the way this book does. Don't hesitate to read it.
Date published: 2004-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a Big Book Mistry has produced a wonderful story of the lives of four ordinary people in India a generation ago. This is, for me, not a quick read, but it is worth the time to get into the lives of these people. I certainly agree with all the praise this book has received. I will read more of Mistry.
Date published: 2004-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wow Amazing story. Grabs you from the beginning to the end. I couldnt believe I finished it...I wanted more. What a terrific book, so well written. Full of history, full of great characters that you really feel close to. India and its culture sounds amazing. If you want to be wow'd read this...terrific to the end.
Date published: 2004-07-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from True Literature I grew up third generation from India and have never been close to it except for Bollywood movies. This book has given not only been an eye opener about the realities of India but also an education to people who have never been. I really enjoyed it and hope to see more excellent work from Rohinton Mistry.
Date published: 2003-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fine Balance This continues to be the best book I have ever read. It teaches us to be thankful for our lives and not take things for granted. This is a must read, you won't be sorry. You won't be able to put it down.
Date published: 2003-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fine Balance This is the first book I read after a long time. I loved the details the author gives the reader. The ending was not so typical.... more like reality. It's definately worth reading.
Date published: 2003-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent One of the finest works of English fiction I have ever read! This book is full of the horror, love, and humor that define India! Mistry does Canada proud!
Date published: 2003-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Eye Opener - A Definite Must Read This book is THE Best book I have ever read. It is truly an eye opener. In this world, we take so much for granted and do not realize the difficulities and harshness suffered by others. It is very easy for us not to be happy and say that our lives are difficult but the author shows us that four complete strangers go through the worst possible time imaginable yet end up being one happy family for some time. This book is a definite must-read for people of any/all backgrounds. The only sad part is that even though the events in the story which supposedly took place few decades ago, are still occuring in this century! This book, once started reading, you just can't put it down until you finish it.
Date published: 2003-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fine Book. This book is one of the best books I have read. It's amazing complex novel with moving grace. I have never read a book by Mr.Mistry and I plan on being a long time reader of him.
Date published: 2003-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from incredible book! This is one of the best books I have ever read. Mistry shows us the life of four people in India. You take in his writing with all your senses. I was immersed in the feeling from the book for weeks after I finished it. It is tragic, but leaves the reader with a sense of hope. A must read.
Date published: 2003-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from High School Student Amazingly written, captivating and a very enjoyably read! Thanks Oprah!
Date published: 2003-03-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A beautiful book A Fine Balance is a wonderfully written story where characters' lives come together and are interwoven by chance. The beauty in this book is found in the human spirit of the characters and what they are able to give to one and other. It was hard to put down, but kept me thinking after I did.
Date published: 2003-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Almost as good as Saramago's Blindness This tightly-written story of four Indian people with differing backgrounds was entertaining. The inter-mingled stories were unpredictable, making for a very refreshing read. I highly recommend Mistry's writing, and I look forward to reading more from him. ALMOST as good as my all-time favourite book, Blindness, by Jose Saramago.
Date published: 2003-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Moving Tale Of all 3 of Mistry's novels this is the finest. The struggle of these amazing characters for the survival of the fittest will enlighten you on life in other places and times. Definately changed my perspective on life.
Date published: 2002-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gripping and Educational It would be pretty cliche to say that this book is a must-read, but that's just what this is. Staying true to the history of India, Mistry delivers a story of four amazingly deep characters and intertwines their stories like patchwork. To complain that the book is too depressing is wishing for something unrealistic. The truth and raw human emotion which seeps from the pages is unparralled and anything less would hurt the story. Mistry shows these characters acting in ways the reader may not always understand, but to simply accept the actions as character, will have you reading cover to cover in no time. A book that should be enjoyed and remembered, truly a fine balance.
Date published: 2002-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life Changing A fine Balance is by far the best novel I have ever read. I feel priviledged to have been able to read this novel. Rohinton Mistry is truly one of the most articulate writers around. The detail he provides to the reader, makes you feel as though you are a part of the novel. After reading this novel, I felt grateful to be who I am. This novel has changed me forever...
Date published: 2002-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Haunting characters The profound ideas and themes in this novel help to shape its reader into a more astute and empathetic human being. Its characters will haunt you, leaving you to think of them long after you have put the book down, it is as though they had literally crossed your path at some point in your life. Masterfully written with vivid detail -- a must read.
Date published: 2002-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing excellent book This book is a must read the characters are so attaching and real .highly recommended
Date published: 2002-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply Amazing I have read many diffrent books and I consider myself well read, but A Fine Balance is simply the best book I have ever read. Dispite its size, about 700 pages, I finished the book in less then a week. The characters are unforgettable, and the story flowed seemlessly. Do yourself a favor, read this book.
Date published: 2002-05-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Can he get any better? This is a great read, Mistry takes us into the mind of the players allowing us to develop the characters as the story line winds its way from the hope we felt on the arrival to the city to the despair that came at the end. This is a book that you MUST read from the very first page to the Very last. If you liked Wally Lamb's I Know This Much is True. You will love this too.
Date published: 2002-05-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Such a long journey Rohinton has rightly described the city of Bombay in his novels.The soul of this claustrophobic megalopolis has come out beautifully in the microscopic Parsi community which nourished and built this city.Rohinton more stories out of you.No one has represented this Indian city better than Rohinton.
Date published: 2002-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Changes You! I just finished this book and as a East Indian Canadian who has been to India before - this book really opened up my eyes. I learned so much from this book and could not put it down. Very few books have the power to change the way you think. After finishing this book 1 week ago, the characters are still on my mind. The book ends with the reader wanting more. The plot and characters are heart wrenching. I could definitely read it again. Thanks Rohinton for opening up my mind further and making me appreciate what it is to be a Canadian.
Date published: 2002-01-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Warning! This book really needs a drowsiness warning. I thought the book was boring! The author drags on every single detail, and changes scenes without clarifying and it confuses the reader.
Date published: 2002-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Literature at its Best Having read and enjoyed Mistry's other books, this one is his best - and perhaps the best novel of the 20th century. The writing transcends the normal reading experience, the reader becoming literally entwined with the events and scenes. The characters become real and you share their happiness and horrors. A novel that reveals the extremes of good and evil in humanity and everyting that is in between. It is a life changing read. Reaching it's end you are greatly disapointment that it is over. I have given copies as gifts and will read it again. I cannot more strongly recommend a book. This is one of the top ten books of my life so far.
Date published: 2002-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down I read this book years ago and I am thrilled that more people will finally discover it, thanks to Oprah's book club. My partner says it's the most depressing book he's ever read. I think he's wrong.
Date published: 2001-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down I guarantee that you will be amazed at how quickly you fly through this lengthy novel. I wish it had been another 700 pages. I didn't want it to be over but I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2001-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best I ever read I am not the type of guy to read a 700+ page book, but A Fine Balance, I devored it. An incredible lesson of life; I am a different person now after having read this great novel.
Date published: 2001-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous! A wonderful,heartbreaking story. When I finished the book, I actually missed the characters, they were so real. I laughed and cried. Don't miss out on this incredible book!
Date published: 2001-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful! Once I picked up this book, I literally couldn't put it down. The lives of four characters, from various classes all come together for a few months as they share a one bedroom apartment in an unnamed city in India. Slowly, the strangers come alive and change, gaining a bond that seems unbreakable. Human nature at it's finest!
Date published: 2001-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A novel all must read! This wonderful novel has impacted my life in a way that is difficult to describe. As I was taken through the turbulent India of the 1970's with the four main characters I could not help but become attached. The emotional levels of this novel is one which I have never before experienced. I felt the pain and joy the characters were undergoing and sobbed at the end. A book I will never forget. Thank you to the author for creating an India for me.
Date published: 2001-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fine, balanced story! This is the first book by Rohinton Mistry that I have read, and it won't be the last. I loved this book. It's the story of four individuals who become friends under extraordinary circumstances in mid-twentieth century India. I laughed and cried with the characters, who were portrayed so realistically. What happens to them is sad, often horrific, yet they keep a sense of humor and tenderness towards each other and other people who cross their paths. Rohinton Mistry is a wonderful writer.
Date published: 2001-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beauty in the everyday. In "A Fine Balance", Mistry takes us into the heart of India of the mid seventies. The often times painful but nonetheless revealing story centers around the lives of four protagonists each with a very different discourse from the next. They find themselves thrown together in the same city apartment: Dinabhai, a widow who refuses to remarry and fights to earn a meagre living as a seamstress; two tailors, Ishvar and Omprakash, uncle and nephew, who have come to the city in the hope of finding work; and a student, Maneck Kohlah, from a village situated at the foothills of the Himalayas. Maneck's father has sent his son to a city school and that is where the story gets complicated. In a series of events, we are thrust ever so casually into the labyrinth that Indian society is - that order with chaos. Having returned from a trip to India recently, it was clear to see that I was missing tons of nuance that I might have understood better had I read this book prior to my trip. Placing myself in the middle of the discourse of this book - to me, as text, it reveals the complexity of human relations and the deep and crushing effects of corruption. A wonderful read. I recommend it to all who seek to effect a greater understanding of India, Asia and the world around them.
Date published: 2001-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from They became my friends... Standing in the book store with the massive book, A FINE BALANCE, pressing in my hands, I wondered if I could actually read the whole thing. I came home that night, after buying the book, and started in on my year-long adventure amonst the political unrest and family lives of the touching characters Mistry brought to life. I laughed, I cried, I stayed up till 2am. They became my friends, and I lived with them for the year it took me to finish the book. This book will change you and bring you joy.
Date published: 2000-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fine Balance A fine Balance was a classic for me. Having grown up in Africa and having visited family in India brought the reality of the caste system. I felt for Dina and the struggle to stay independent of her brother and not get into an arranged marriage. . Seeing the caste system where the rich and the powerful could force their ideas on the poor. I grew up in the system and saw first hand the dominance of the males and the upper caste. The book is very well written. It conveys the abject poverty in India, the condescending attitude of the landowners and the triumph of Dinabai,the taylors and the poor student. I could feel the student's parents trying to get him out of the small village,the determination of the tailors parents to change occupations and survive. It depicted well the beggars and the stark poverty in India.
Date published: 2000-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Astounding Story After reading Rohinton Mistry's Such a Long Journey and Tales from Firozsha Baag I attempted to read the mighty novel, A Fine Balance. The novel is awesome! Mr. Mistry caught each and every minute problems usually faced by poverty-stricken human beings at South Asia. This novel touched me right in the deepest part of the heart. It makes you move when reading some parts of the novel which are very atrocious. This is a kind of a book that can make people emotional. Mr.Mistry we are waiting for your next novel!
Date published: 2000-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Oh, my! I can honestly say that this was the best book that I have ever read in my whole life...I mean, this super-thick book took me like, two days-three days tops-to read. I am always interested in learning about other cultures and this book inspired me to research more about the Indian culture and traditions. This book perfectly portrayed the sadness that often comes into life and I found it amazing how Mr.Mistry so accurately displayed a woman's feelings and thoughts...if only all man knew what women went through then we'd not have such complaints about them. I think that you should take this book to bed with you and when you begin reading you'll have to force yourself to put it down so you may sleep. When you wake up in the morning, you will look forward to going to bed so you can pick up where you left off; you may even find that you go to bed earlier so you can have more time to read before you have to sleep. Even if you don't like to read, read this book.
Date published: 2000-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! A special thanks to Mr.Knoop (my OAC english teacher) for recommending this great novel. Mistry amazingly creates a fine balance between hope and despair for each of the characters in this novel and I recommend anyone looking for a great book to take a ride on this emotional rollercoaster.
Date published: 2000-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fine Balance What a wonderful read! This novel not only draws you into the characters' lives, it teaches you so much about the politics and history in India. It is also a story I believe about people coming together and helping one another when so often the political and social atmosphere seperate people. I was touched by the characters' kind gestures of food, shelter, companionship, and protection in a time when everybody had so little themselves. Mistry managed to capture the kind heartedness of all the characters in a time of disruption, violence, poverty, pain, and fear.
Date published: 2000-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fine balance indeed! Quite often you come across a book that teaches you so much and touches you forever. In highschool I was introduced to Such a long Journey, by Rohinton Mistry and just like this book it has taught me so much. This book expresses a series of emotions, and allows you to learn about another culture.
Date published: 2000-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from unforgettable This is one of the finest pieces of literature that I have come across. Reading A Fine Balance, took me on an emotional journey that I was not expecting to take. The characters are unforgettable and if you are Indian like me, it will bring back both deligtful and sad memories of your past. This novel will break your heart. I have also read Such a Long Journey and Tales of Firoza Baag and I am anxiously awaiting Mr Mistry's next novel.
Date published: 2000-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Feeling Down About Life? - Read This Book Reading this book will change your outlook on life - guaranteeed. The story of the fortunes of four principal characters in Indira Ghandi's India is told in straightforward fashion and the events (sometimes horrific) keep you involved. When you have finished you'll look at a simple meal, bath or shower, freedom of movement, even a job you're not in love with in a whole new light. I don't think I'll complain about anything again, except maybe the cold!!!!
Date published: 2000-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life Changing This is probably the best book I have ever read. It made me laugh, cry and evaluate my own life and well being. It really made me appreciate my life and everything and everyone in it. It made me realize how lucky I am.
Date published: 1999-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fine balance What an amazing book. Non stop reading and wishing the story would never end!
Date published: 1999-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just Brilliant I picked up this book on a whim, without knowing anything about it and was more than pleasantly surprised. This book is an absolute stroke of brilliance.
Date published: 1999-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sad Book! I started the book on my honeymoon in July, obviously not a good choice when the story is so sad. Mind you, I did enjoy the book immensely, you just get drawn to the characters and you truly feel their pain when they were being treated with such cruelty and unfairness. Really makes you think. I wish I had time to read it in several sittings rather than in 3 months. The impact would have been much greater and the link much stronger. If you think you're having a tough life, read it and you'll realize how lucky you really are!
Date published: 1999-10-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Fine Read Enjoyed this book immensely. Beautifully written, drawing you into a world of both dispair and hope.
Date published: 1999-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A masterpiece When I first picked up this book, I found the length of the book daunting. After I completed the novel, I realized my concern with the length was justified. The book was too short!!! It's sad to see how unfair life can be.
Date published: 1999-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply Amazing! I am a 17 year old, first year-University student. I have read many novels but none have compared to "A Fine Balance". Mistry keeps his reader on the edge of their seat every second of this book. He maintains a "balance" between political turmoil and an emotional rollercoaster of which enables his readers to become completely linked to the story. But the most incredible development nests with in his characters. Mistry creates four main characters in which anyone can somehow relate with. This book is for anyone and everyone who can allow themselves to be blown away! Until I read this book, few have been able to keep me wanting more!
Date published: 1999-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fine Balance Mistry weaves magic through his words, portraying mid-70s India in all its pain, beauty, defeat, tragedy and tenderness. The novel illustrates the fragility of the balance between despair and hope through the struggles and strength of spirit of its cast of characters. Not only does A Fine Balance remind us of why we read, it reminds us of the power of words to affect and move us, to teach and to change us. When the Board of the Modern Library put together its list of the 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century, where was A Fine Balance???
Date published: 1999-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A very fine balance This book is an absolute masterpiece. Rohinton Mistry will soon take his rightful place as Canada's finest living novelist. Mistry's skill at character development is simply unrivalled. The names Om, Dina, Manesh and Ishvar will always be a part of me.
Date published: 1999-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fine Balance Mistry's vivid portrayal of a country undergoing change is an unforgettable read. This is a story of survival: of losing and losing again till all that remains are the bare essentials of human existence - A Fine Balance between hope and despair. Set in mid-1970s India, it elegantly depicts the city, countryside and inhabitants, from students and seamstresses to the beggars and businessmen. As though a spell had been cast, I found myself in India, witnessing the intimate realm of the characters' lives, from tender moments to disturbing brutality. An exquisite exposé of the human spirit, of continued hope in the face of adversity.
Date published: 1999-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fine Balance According to the members of our Chapters book club, the unanimous opinion is that this book is worth reading. Don't let the size daunt you. The story is easy to read and hard to put down. Mistry's portrayal of India during Indira Ghandi's time is truly eye-opening. I'll never take my bathroom for granted again! Even though the story can be depressing at times, it has many humourous moments and some very interesting, almost Dickensian characters. This novel is truly a learning experience to be enjoyed.
Date published: 1999-05-11

Read from the Book

One: City By the SeaDina Dalal seldom indulged in looking back at her life with regret or bitterness, or questioning why things had turned out the way they had, cheating her of the bright future everyone had predicted for her when she was in school, when her name was still Dina Shroff. And if she did sink into one of these rare moods, she quickly swam out of it. What was the point of repeating the story over and over and over, she asked herself--it always ended the same way; whichever corridor she took, she wound up in the same room.Dina's father had been a doctor, a GP with a modest practice who followed the Hippocratic oath somewhat more passionately than others of his profession. During the early years of Dr. Shroff's career, his devotion to his work was diagnosed, by peers, family members, and senior physicians, as typical of youthful zeal and vigour. "How refreshing, this enthusiasm of the young," they smiled, nodding sagely, confident that time would douse the fires of idealism with a healthy dose of cynicism and family responsibilities.But marriage, and the arrival of a son, followed eleven years later by a daughter, changed nothing for Dr. Shroff. Time only sharpened the imbalance between his fervour to ease suffering and his desire to earn a comfortable income."How disappointing," said friends and relatives, shaking their heads. "Such high hopes we had for him. And he keeps slaving like a clerk, like a fanatic, refusing to enjoy life. Poor Mrs. Shroff. Never a vacation, never a party--no fun at all in her existence."At fifty-one, when Most GPS would have begun considering options like working half-time, hiring an inexpensive junior, or even selling the practice in favour of early retirement, Dr. Shroff had neither the bank balance nor the temperament to permit such indulgences. Instead, he volunteered to lead a campaign of medical graduates bound for districts in the interior. There, where typhoid and cholera, unchallenged by science or technology, were still reaping their routine harvest of villagers, Dr. Shroff would try to seize the deadly sickles or, at the very least, to blunt them.But Mrs. Shroff undertook a different sort of campaign: to dissuade her husband from going into what she felt were the jaws of certain death. She attempted to coach Dina with words to sway her father. After all, Dina, at twelve, was Daddy's darling. Mrs. Shroff knew that her son, Nusswan, could be of no help in this enterprise. Enlisting him would have ruined any chance of changing her husband's mind.The turning point in the father-and-son relationship had come seven years ago, on Nusswan's sixteenth birthday. Uncles and aunts had been invited to dinner, and someone said, "Well, Nusswan, you will soon be studying to become a doctor, just like your father.""I don't want to be a doctor," Nusswan answered. "I'll be going into business-import and export."Some of the uncles and aunts nodded approvingly. Others recoiled in mock horror, turning to Dr. Shroff. "Is this true? No father-son partnership?""Of course it's true," he said. "My children are free to do whatever they please."But five-year-old Dina had seen the hurt on her father's face before he could hide it. She ran to him and clambered onto his lap. "Daddy, I want to be a doctor, just like you, when I grow up."Everyone laughed and applauded, and said, Smart little girl, knows how to get what she wants. Later, they whispered that the son was obviously not made of the same solid stuff as the father-no ambition, wouldn't amount to much.Dina had repeated her wish in the years to come, continuing to regard her father as some kind of god who gave people good health, who struggled against illness, and who, sometimes, succeeded in temporarily thwarting death. And Dr. Shroff was delighted with his bright child. On parents' night at the convent school, the principal and teachers always had the highest praise for her. She would succeed if she wanted to, Dr. Shroff knew it for certain.Mrs. Shroff also knew, for certain, that her daughter was the one to recruit in the campaign against Dr. Shroff's foolish philanthropic plan of working in remote, Godforsaken villages. But Dina refused to cooperate; she did not approve of devious means to keep her beloved father home.Then Mrs. Shroff resorted to other methods, using not money or his personal safety or his family to persuade him, for she knew these would fail hopelessly. Instead, she invoked his patients, claiming he was abandoning them, old and frail and helpless. "What will they do if you go so far away? They trust you and rely on you. How can you be so cruel? You have no idea how much you mean to them.""No, that is not the point," said Dr. Shroff. He was familiar with the anfractuous arguments that her love for him could prompt her to wield. Patiently he explained there were GPS galore in the city who could take care of the assorted aches and pains-where he was going, the people had no one. He comforted her that it was only a temporary assignment, hugging and kissing her much more than was usual for him. "I promise to be back soon," he said. "Before you even grow used to my absence."But Dr. Shroff could not keep his promise. Three weeks into the medical campaign he was dead, not from typhoid or cholera, but from a cobra's bite, far from the lifesaving reach of antivenins.Mrs. Shroff received the news calmly. People said it was because she was a doctor's wife, more familiar with death than other mortals. They reasoned that Dr. Shroff must have often carried such tidings to her regarding his own patients, thus preparing her for the inevitable.When she took brisk charge of the funeral arrangements, managing everything with superb efficiency, people wondered if there was not something a little abnormal about her behaviour. Between disbursing funds from her handbag for the various expenses, she accepted condolences, comforted grieving relatives, tended the oil lamp at the head of Dr. Shroff's bed, washed and ironed her white sari, and made sure there was a supply of incense and sandalwood in the house. She personally instructed the cook about the special vegetarian meal for the next day.After the full four days of death ceremonies, Dina was still crying. Mrs. Shroff, who was busy tallying the prayer-bungalow charges from the Towers of Silence, said briskly, "Come, my daughter, be sensible now. Daddy would not like this." So Dina did her best to control herself.Then Mrs. Shroff continued absentmindedly, writing out the cheque. "You could have stopped him if you wanted. He would have listened to you," she said.Dina's sobs burst out with renewed intensity. In addition to the grief for her father, her tears now included anger towards her mother, even hatred. It would take her a few months to understand that there was no malice or accusation contained in what had been said, just a sad and simple statement of fact as seen by her mother.Six months after Dr. Shroff's death, after being the pillar that everyone could lean on, Mrs. Shroff gradually began to crumble. Retreating from daily life, she took very little interest in the running of her household or in her own person.It made little difference to Nusswan, who was twenty-three and busy planning his own future. But Dina, at twelve, could have done with a parent for a few more years. She missed her father dreadfully. Her mother's withdrawal made it much worse.Nusswan Shroff had earned his own living as a businessman for two years prior to his father's death. He was still single, living at home, saving his money while searching for a suitable flat and a suitable wife. With his father's passing and his mother's reclusion, he realized that the pursuit of a flat was unnecessary, and a wife, urgent.He now assumed the role of head of the family, and legal guardian to Dina. All their relatives agreed this was as it should be. They praised his selfless decision, admitting they had been wrong about his capabilities. He also took over the family finances, promising that his mother and sister would want for nothing; he would look after them out of his own salary. But, even as he spoke, he knew there was no need for this. The money from the sale of Dr. Shroff's dispensary was sufficient.Nusswan's first decision as head of the family was to cut back on the hired help. The cook, who came for half the day and prepared the two main meals, was kept on; Lily, the live-in servant, was let go. "We cannot continue in the same luxury as before," he declared. "I just can't afford the wages."Mrs. Shroff expressed some doubt about the change. "Who will do the cleaning? My hands and feet don't work like before.""Don't worry, Mamma, we will all share it. You can do easy things, like dusting the furniture. We can wash our own cups and saucers, surely. And Dina is a young girl, full of energy. It will be good for her, teach her how to look after a home.""Yes, maybe you are right," said Mrs. Shroff, vaguely convinced of the need for money-saving measures.But Dina knew there was more to it. The week before, while passing the kitchen on her way to the wc well past midnight, she had noticed her brother with the ayah: Lily sitting on one end of the kitchen table, her feet resting on the edge; Nusswan, his pyjamas around his ankles, stood between Lily's thighs, clasping her hips to him. Dina watched his bare buttocks with sleepy curiosity, then crept back to bed without using the toilet, her cheeks flushed. But she must have lingered a moment too long, for Nusswan had seen her.Not a word was spoken about it. Lily departed (with a modest bonus, unbeknownst to Mrs. Shroff), tearfully declaring that she would never find as nice a family to work for ever again. Dina felt sorry for her, and also despised her.Then the new household arrangement got under way. Everyone made an honest effort. The experiment in self-reliance seemed like fun. "It's a little like going camping," said Mrs. Shroff."That's the spirit," said Nusswan.With the passing of days, Dina's chores began to increase. As a token of his participation, Nusswan continued to wash his cup, saucer, and breakfast plate before going to work. Beyond that, he did nothing.One morning, after swallowing his last gulp of tea, he said, "I'm very late today, Dina. Please wash my things.""I'm not your servant! Wash your own dirty plates!" Weeks of pent-up resentment came gushing. "You said we would each do our own work! All your stinking things you leave for me!""Listen to the little tigress," said Nusswan, amused."You mustn't speak like that to your big brother," chided Mrs. Shroff gently. ";Remember, we must share and share alike.""He's cheating! He doesn't do any work! I do everything!"Nusswan hugged his mother: "Bye-bye, Mamma," and gave Dina a friendly pat on the shoulder to make up. She shrank from him. "The tigress is still angry," he said and left for the office.Mrs. Shroff tried to soothe Dina, promising to discuss it later with Nusswan, maybe convince him to hire a part-time ayah, but her resolve melted within hours. Matters continued as before. As weeks went by, instead of restoring fairness in the household, she began turning into one of the chores on her daughter's ever-growing list.Now Mrs. Shroff had to be told what to do. When food was placed before her, she ate it, though it did her little good, for she kept losing weight. She had to be reminded to bathe and change her clothes. If toothpaste was squeezed out and handed to her on the brush, she brushed her teeth. For Dina, the most unpleasant task was helping her mother wash her hair-it fell out in clumps on the bathroom floor, and more followed when she combed it for her.Once every month, Mrs. Shroff attended her husband's prayers at the fire-temple. She said it gave her great comfort to hear the elderly Dustoor Framji's soothing tones supplicating for her husband's soul. Dina missed school to accompany her mother, worried about her wandering off somewhere.Before commencing the ceremony, Dustoor Framji unctuously shook Mrs. Shroff's hand and gave Dina a prolonged hug of the sort he reserved for girls and young women. His reputation for squeezing and fondling had earned him the title of Dustoor Daab-Chaab, along with the hostility of his colleagues, who resented not so much his actions but his lack of subtlety, his refusal to disguise his embraces with fatherly or spiritual concern. They feared that one day he would go too far, drool over his victim or something, and disgrace the fire-temple.Dina squirmed in his grasp as he patted her head, rubbed her neck, stroked her back and pressed himself against her. He had a very short beard, stubble that resembled flakes of grated coconut, and it scraped her cheeks and forehead. He released her just when she had summoned enough courage to tear her trapped body from his arms.After the fire-temple, for the rest of the day at home Dina tried to make her mother talk, asking her advice about housework or recipes, and when that failed, about Daddy, and the days of their newlywed lives. Faced with her mother's dreamy silences, Dina felt helpless. Soon, her concern for her mother was tempered by the instinct of youth which held her back-she would surely receive her portion of grief and sorrow in due course, there was no need to take on the burden prematurely.And Mrs. Shroff spoke in monosyllables or sighs, staring into Dina's face for answers. As for dusting the furniture, she could never proceed beyond wiping the picture frame containing her husband's graduation photograph. She spent most of her time gazing out the window.Nusswan preferred to regard his mother's disintegration as a widow's appropriate renunciation, wherein she was sloughing off the dross of life to concentrate on spiritual matters. He focused his attention on the raising of Dina. The thought of the enormous responsibility resting on his shoulders worried him ceaselessly.He had always perceived his father to be a strict disciplinarian; he had stood in awe of him, had even been a little frightened of him. If he was to fill his father's shoes, he would have to induce the same fear in others, he decided, and prayed regularly for courage and guidance in his task. He confided to the relatives-the uncles and aunts-that Dina's defiance, her stubbornness, was driving him crazy, and only the Almighty's help gave him the strength to go forward in his duty.His sincerity touched them. They promised to pray for him too. "Don't worry, Nusswan, everything will be all right. We will light a lamp at the fire-temple."Heartened by their support, Nusswan began taking Dina with him to the fire-temple once as week. There, he thrust a stick of sandalwood in her hand and whispered fiercely in her ear, "Now pray properly--ask Dadaji to make you a good girl, ask Him to make you obedient."While she bowed before the sanctum, he travelled along the outer wall hung with pictures of various dustoors and high priests. He glided from display to display, stroking the garlands, hugging the frames, kissing the glass, and ending with the very tall picture of Zarathustra to which he glued his lips for a full minute. Then, from the vessel of ashes placed in the sanctum's doorway, he smeared a pinch on his forehead, another bit across the throat, and undid his top two shirt buttons to rub a fistful over his chest. Like talcum powder, thought Dina, watching from the corner of her eye, from her bowed position, straining to keep from laughing. She did not raise her head till he had finished his antics."Did you pray properly?" he demanded when they were outside.She nodded."Good. Now all the bad thoughts will leave your head, you will feel peace and quiet in your heart."

Bookclub Guide

A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry’s stunning internationally acclaimed bestseller, is set in mid-1970s India. It tells the story of four unlikely people whose lives come together during a time of political turmoil soon after the government declares a “State of Internal Emergency.” Through days of bleakness and hope, their circumstances – and their fates – become inextricably linked in ways no one could have foreseen. Mistry’s prose is alive with enduring images and a cast of unforgettable characters. Written with compassion, humour, and insight, A Fine Balance is a vivid, richly textured, and powerful novel written by one of the most gifted writers of our time.1. Why has Mistry chosen not to name the Prime Minister or the City by the Sea, when they are easily recognizable? Does recognition of these elements make any difference in your attitude toward the story?2. Is Nusswan presented entirely as a villain, or does he have redeeming features? What are his real feelings toward Dina?3. How does Dina's position within her family reflect the position of women in her culture and social class? Is the status of Om's sisters the same as Dina's, or different? What sorts of comparisons can you make between the roles and functions of women in India (as represented in this novel) and in America?4. Post-Independence India has seen much religious and ethnic violence: for instance, the mutual slaughter of Hindus and Muslims after Partition (1947), during which Ishvar and Narayan saved Ashraf and his family, and the hunting down and killing of Sikhs after the Prime Minister's murder, witnessed by Maneck. How does the behavior of the characters in the novel, ordinary Hindus, Parsis, and Muslims, contrast with the hatred that inspired these terrible acts? How much of this hatred seems to be fomented by political leaders? Dukhi observes bitterly "that at least his Muslim friend treated him better than his Hindu brothers" [p. 115]. What does this say about ethnic and religious loyalties, as opposed to personal ones?5. After Rustom's death, Dina's primary goal is self-reliance. But as the novel progresses and she makes new friends, she begins to change her ideas. "We'll see how independent you are when the goondas come back and break your head open," Dina says to Maneck [p. 433]. Does she find in the end that real self-reliance is possible, or even desirable? Does she change her definition of self-reliance?6. Most people seem indifferent or hostile to the Prime Minister and her Emergency policies, but a few characters, like Mrs. Gupta and Nusswan, support her. What does the endorsement of such people indicate about the Prime Minister? Can you compare the Prime Minister and her supporters with other political leaders and parties in today's world?7. Why does Avinash's chess set become so important to Maneck, who comes to see chess as the game of life? "The rules should always allow someone to win," says Om, while Maneck replies, "Sometimes, no one wins" [p. 410]. How do the events of the novel resemble the various moves and positions in chess?8. Dina distances herself from the political ferment of the period: "Government problemsÑgames played by people in power," she tells Ishvar. "It doesn't affect ordinary people like us" [p. 75]. But in the end it does affect all of them, drastically. Why do some, like Dina and Maneck, refuse to involve themselves in politics while others, like Narayan and Avinash, eagerly do so? Which position is the better or wiser one?9. When Ishvar and Om are incarcerated in the labor camp, Ishvar asks what crime they have committed. "It's not a question of crime and punishment—it's problem and solution," says the foreman [p. 338]. If it is true that there is a problem—the vast number of homeless people and beggars on city streetsÑwhat would a proper and humane solution be?10. People at the bottom of the economic heap frequently blame so-called middlemen: people like Dina, who makes her living through other people's labor, or like Ibrahim the rent collector. Do such middlemen strike you as making money immorally? Who are the real villains?11. How would you sum up Beggarmaster: Is he ruthless, kind, or a bit of both? Does he redeem himself by his thoughtful acts, the seriousness with which he takes his responsibilities toward his dependents? In a world this cruel, are such simple categories as "good" and "bad" even applicable?12. When Beggarmaster draws Shankar, Shankar's mother, and himself, he represents himself as a freak just like the other two. What does this vision he has of himself tell us about him?13. The government's birth control program is enforced with violence and cruelty, with sterilization quotas and forced vasectomies. But is birth control policy in itself a bad thing? Dina tells Om, for example, "Two children only. At the most, three. Haven't you been listening to the family planning people?" [p. 466]. How might family planning be implemented in a humane fashion?14. After Dina's father dies, her family life is blighted until she marries Rustom. In later years, she chooses to withdraw from her natural family; it is not until her year with the tailors and Maneck that she again comes to know what a family might be. What constitutes a family? What other examples of unconventional "families" do you find in the novel?15. Why do Ishvar, Om, and Dina survive, in their diminished ways, while Maneck finally gives up? Is it due to something in their pasts, their childhoods, their families, their characters?16. "People forget how vulnerable they are despite their shirts and shoes and briefcases," says Beggarmaster, "how this hungry and cruel world could strip them, put them in the same position as my beggars" [p. 493]. Does A Fine Balance show people's vulnerability, or their fortitude?17. What effect is achieved by the novel's mildly comic ending, with Om and Ishvar clowning around at Dina's door? Is the ending appropriate, or off-balance?18. The novel gives us a vivid picture of life for members of the untouchable caste in remote villages. Why might such an apparently anachronistic system have survived into the late twentieth century? Does it resemble any other social systems with which you are acquainted? Why do so few of its victims fight the system, as Narayan does? Why do so few leave the village: is it from necessity, social conservatism, respect for tradition?Discussion questions provided courtesy of Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. All rights reserved.

From Our Editors

In a small apartment somewhere in India, a fiercely independent widow is determined to remain independent. She employs a very small group of people to sew clothes and invites them into her home. Slowly, inevitably, the four become great friends, leaning heavily on each other for support. But when everything around them begins to collapse, each of them must decide for themselves how best to survive. Caste violence, gender oppression, and the perennial privations of the poverty-stricken masses combine in the past and present stories of Rohinton Mistry's compassionate characters. By weaving together the disparate lives of these four people, A Fine Balance itself achieves a balance of complete and utter despair and indelible hope.

Editorial Reviews

“A masterpiece of illumination and grace. Like all great fiction, it transforms our understanding of life.”–The Guardian (U.K.)“This novel has the courage to remember and to reaffirm who we are, one by one; it continues, in the tradition of the great novels, to celebrate the luminous and unquenchable human spirit.”–Globe and Mail“Few have caught the real sorrow and inexplicable strength of India, the unaccountable crookedness and sweetness, as well as Mistry.”–Time“A towering masterpiece by a writer of genius.…”–The Independent (U.K.)“An astonishing novel…full of wisdom and laughter and the touches of the unexpectedly familiar through which literature illuminates life.”–Wall Street Journal“A work of stature…in scope, insight, and above all compassion for human beings.”–Montreal Gazette“Those who continue to harp on the inevitable decline of the novel ought to…consider Rohinton Mistry.”–New York Times Book Review of Books“The story unfolds with the grace and beauty of a butterfly’s wing…extraordinary.”–The Times (U.K.)“Mistry has demonstrated once again the enduring power of fiction to make sense of it all simply by telling a story…Read it.”–Vancouver Sun“Every word of it seems like a fleck of brilliant light on a dancing ocean.…A major achievement.”–Scotland on Sunday“A compelling book that manages the rare feat of being both entertaining and compassionate.”–India Today“Compulsively readable; also funny, intensely moving and, like Bombay, pullulating with humanity.”–The Independent (U.K.)“Impossible to put down.”–The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia