Judy’s review of Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Sue (new)

Sue Have you read A Fine Balance by Rohunton Mistry. This is a novel that takes place in India of the 70s. I thought it was excellent. Sometimes difficult to read, but excellent. It sounds like many of the problems cited then are still present.


message 2: by Mikki (new)

Mikki Great review, Judy. I do understand what you mean when you sat that you "did feel a tad bit disappointed with it although I can't put my finger on why that was" because I had the same feelings.

For me, I felt that it read too close to a fictionalized tale and I also wanted to know more about Katherine Boo's experience of writing it -- sort of like a summary.

Sue, I want to read Mistry's book and have it here as well as Family Matters. Were you aware that he also has a collection of shorts?


message 3: by Judy (new)

Judy A Fine Balance is sitting on my night stand. I still haven't been able to work it in. I really want to soon since you, Anne and others have mentioned how much they like it. You are right, it would be a great book to read with Beautiful Forevers still fresh in my mind.

Mikki, I was fortunate that the edition I listened to had a rather lengthy afterward that told about her experience with the Annawadi folks. I think you hit on something with the fictionalized feeling. I kept having that feeling while I was listening to it and reminding myself this is real, no need to be concerned with where the plot is going. I would have felt more comfortable with the authenticity if she would have told the account from a first person POV.


message 4: by Sue (new)

Sue Judy, and Mikki, A Fine Balance hits you in the gut as if it were non fiction. Of course Mistry is writing about what he knows. I found that it was a good read, though not quick. I guess smooth is what I mean.

I plan to read Family Matters with Constant Reader for 8/15. I've got to get that from the library.

Mikki, I had no idea Mistry has written short stories except I may have seen a title when I was looking through the intro to A Fine Balance. Is this going to end up on our endless short story list. I seem to keep finding more!


message 5: by Mikki (last edited Jul 15, 2012 08:08PM) (new)

Mikki Judy wrote: "I kept having that feeling while I was listening to it and reminding myself this is real, no need to be concerned with where the plot is going. I would have felt more comfortable with the authenticity if she would have told the account from a first person POV. "

Maybe that would have made the difference. I planned on reading it again since it's a quick read in order to pinpoint my thoughts.

Sue wrote: "Is this going to end up on our endless short story list. I seem to keep finding more!"

Methinks you need to add it because it's been on mine for a little while. :) Swimming Lessons and Other Stories from Firozsha Baag


message 6: by Sue (new)

Sue Methinks you are right Mikki so I just added it. Oh my. Good thing I'm no longer daunted by these huge numbers.


message 7: by Teresa (last edited Jul 15, 2012 08:26PM) (new)

Teresa If y'all read it together, I might just have to reread it. Though it's been awhile since I read it, I can still remember some scenes -- sign of a good book.


message 8: by Sue (new)

Sue Is it good enough for me to invest in Teresa?


message 9: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Sue wrote: "Is it good enough for me to invest in Teresa?"

I think so, but I am a big Mistry fan. I bought it after I'd read all of his novels and wanted to read everything by him. My library didn't have the short stories, so I did buy it. I don't have a review because this was before GR.


message 10: by Mikki (new)

Mikki Teresa wrote: "If y'all read it together, I might just have to reread it. Though it's been awhile since I read it, I can still remember some scenes -- sign of a good book."

That's a date!


message 11: by Sue (new)

Sue I'm going to look around at prices.


message 12: by Sue (new)

Sue I just ordered it and I used Bookfinders, Teresa--that is fantastic. Who knew that Amazon's booksellers would have the lowest prices. I decided to order Family Matters too. That way I won't have to worry about renewals , etc. They were both cheap, about the same cost as postage.


message 13: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Sue wrote: "I just ordered it and I used Bookfinders, Teresa--that is fantastic. Who knew that Amazon's booksellers would have the lowest prices. I decided to order Family Matters too. That way I won't have to..."

Great! Yep, sometimes it's amazon marketplace, sometimes it's abe. And what's great about bookfinder is that it does the work for you.


message 14: by Sue (new)

Sue It really is amazing. I'm so glad you mentioned it this week. I decided to get both of them because my experience with A Fine Balance was so positive. Mistry is really a wonderful writer.

Right now I'm reading an Egyptian book that really seems good, No One Sleeps in Alexandria. I really am happy to be having this exposure to new and international literature.


message 15: by Tanvi (new)

Tanvi good review. Even I was disappointed with the book for reasons I can't comprehend. And it is interesting to know that the issue of displacement exists elsewhere too. May be it's too common in India for us to take notice.


message 16: by Judy (new)

Judy Thank-you, Tanvi. Its an issue in A Fine Balance and the Beautification Project that displaces the tailors. Maybe it gets more press when it occurs in India? It happens here, too, but seems to be downplayed and we don't hear the stories of the people who are hurt by it. I live near Detroit which has whole areas that are being razed. We are told no one lives in these sections, but one has to wonder.


message 17: by Sue (new)

Sue Judy wrote: "Thank-you, Tanvi. Its an issue in A Fine Balance and the Beautification Project that displaces the tailors. Maybe it gets more press when it occurs in India? It happens here, too, but seems to be d..."

And Judy there is the other issue of gentrification where areas are refurbished to the point where prior residents no longer can afford to live there. That's happened in parts of Boston and I think in every major city in the US.


message 18: by Judy (new)

Judy Ah good point, Sue. I didn't know that is what that was called. Learn something new everyday! Is gentrification taking place in the renovated downtown areas?


message 19: by Sue (new)

Sue I know it has happened in several neighborhoods of Boston, and not necessarily ones that were run down or in bad shape. It's just become much more popular to live in the city which has driven up rents and property values. Of course Boston also has the issue of a large student population. Put it all together and this area has some of the highest rents in the country.


message 20: by Judy (new)

Judy How interesting. Its kind of strange, too. I was just telling hubby about what you posted and he reminded me of something strange that is happening here - actually about the opposite. A new company bought an apartment complex and made it a government-subsidized rental. The complex's kitchens had been remodeled before it was sold, new countertops, cupboards had been put in. Now that it is a "low rent" with govt subsidy, the new company took out the improvements, put the old cupboards back in and are kicking out the residents who "make too much money". Have you heard of anything so crazy?! I guess the discrimination goes both ways, but I'm sure the poor folks get the bad end of it more often!


message 21: by Sue (new)

Sue That sounds really odd. I know when any apartment complexes are built around here, state law requires a certain percentage of apartments be set aside for low income. I've never heard of what you describe. I'll bet the contractors take the more expensive fixtures and put them in other places with higher rents.


message 22: by Judy (new)

Judy That's what I told hubby, either that or sold them to another landlord.


message 23: by Sue (new)

Sue The rich continue to get richer!


message 24: by Judy (new)

Judy I think it shows how screwed up laws are, too, where they have to kick people out in order to meet the government guidelines. What's wrong with this picture?!


message 25: by Sue (new)

Sue I wonder if it actually is "government" or some local ordinance that's been co-opted. So much of this type of thing is people purposefully bending law.


message 26: by Judy (new)

Judy The Federal guidelines set income levels for the housing unfortunately. There are many reasons that I think it would be better if it weren't so controlled and were more open. But just my opinion.


message 27: by Sue (last edited Jun 04, 2013 10:02AM) (new)

Sue Ah. I guess I'm more aware of mixed use housing with multiple income levels aside from elderly housing and some other places that aren't near me.

The only problem with having no Federal mandates is there probably wouldn't be any housing or the rules would vary terribly between states. The problems seem to be in the implementation.


message 28: by Judy (new)

Judy It does seem to be a vicious circle. Its a mixture of good and bad. With a little tweaking perhaps the system could be much better.


message 29: by Sue (new)

Sue Oh yes. Part of the problem is that the system becomes so frozen in place.


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