notgettingenough 's Reviews > A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
2658311
's review
Jun 20, 2013

it was amazing
bookshelves: indian, modern-lit
Read from July 16 to 19, 2010

Maybe this review, about exploitation as much as anything, should have stayed on this site...


http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpres...

(I am told some sort of word minimum is necessary on this site. In order to conform....

rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb)
36 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read A Fine Balance.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

07/16 page 21
3.0% "Dina is being abused at home. 'They were helpless with laughter when he entered the room. He fixed each one with a black stare before turning away with menacing slowness, leaving behind silence and misery. Yes, it worked, he realised with surprise and triumph - fear worked."
07/16 page 42
7.0% "After spending their wedding night in a single bed: 'She wondered how close they would sleep tonight, now that there were twin beds. But one of the two was as good as unslept in when they woke up on their second morning.'"
07/17 page 47
8.0% "Sometimes she nudged the pillow lightly with her elbow, her signal to Rustom that she wanted his arm around her. When the human weight did not materialise, she awakened to emptiness, relearning the loss in the darkness before sunrise."
07/18 page 212
34.0% ""Maneck cherished that day....Wheneever the pain of banishment surfaced, he summoned the happy memory to counterbalance his despair, his dark thoughts of rejection and loneliness." I do wish this worked."
07/18 page 271
43.0% "Finally Maneck has a friend who teaches him chess, but then abandons him. He feels betrayed...'the joy has seeped out of the pieces.'"
07/18 page 424
68.0% "Listen, a riddle for you: to make it stiff and stand up straight, she rubs it; to make it slick and slide it in, she licks it. What is she doing?"
03/15 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Manny (new)

Manny What a wonderful review! But, with the greatest respect, I must differ with you on the following:

What I was doing, in retrospect, was crap. I turned the vilest suffering into neutral numbers and I was proud to have done so. That’s academia for you. A Fine Balance is the reality, the numbers are nothing.

I think both the human story and the numbers are essential. Without the human story, as you say, the numbers don't signify. But without the numbers, you can't tell whether the human story is typical or not. There are so many terrible things happening in the world, and we don't have time to deal with all of them. People have become too adept at confusing us with skilful propaganda. It's vital to know when something is typical, and when it's just a carefully chosen anecdote.


message 2: by notgettingenough (last edited Aug 18, 2010 12:15AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

notgettingenough Manny wrote: "What a wonderful review! But, with the greatest respect, I must differ with you on the following:

What I was doing, in retrospect, was crap. I turned the vilest suffering into neutral numbers and ..."


Why thank you for defending my years spent doing this. I dare say you are right, but honestly, the bigger the numbers the more impossible they are to comprehend. At the moment imagine the entire population of Australia was suddenly homeless - every one of them! Ie the Pakistani situation.

I have struggled to feel I could write anything that got across the sense of this book. It is the most miserable dreadful affair in which one keeps thinking, well, now things get better, but they don't.

And yet, if it had been just been badly written, I could call it a page-turner. I found it impossible to put down and knocked it off over the course of a (long) weekend, all 600+ pages of it. That is, if it is part of a book's mission to be enthralling then in the grimmest of ways this was. I would hate anybody to think it was merely a political/social diatribe. It is nothing of the sort and I was constantly amazed at how often I found myself saying 'yes, my life is like that' and then wondering how on earth that could be the case. Well, it is because Mistry is writing about everybody. That's what really makes it a great book.


message 3: by Manny (new)

Manny Why thank you for defending my years spent doing this. I dare say you are right, but honestly, the bigger the numbers the more impossible they are to comprehend.

It is precisely because large numbers are hard to grasp intuitively that they are so important. With the numbers, at least you are able to figure out what's going on if you think carefully. Without them, you're just lost.

One of the things I most hate about the average politician is their way of using big numbers to confuse people. Though maybe they're confused themselves. Apparently only one MP in our current Parliament has any kind of scientific training. It would be interesting to see a survey on just how numerate our elected representatives are.


Paul Bryant I'm going to make an earnest attempt to catch up with all my old friend reviews, I really am. Because otherwise I would miss reviews like this one, which is for one of my 5 star novels. Rohinton Mistry has also written two other brilliant novels, Such a Long Journey and Family Matters. Both should have you boohooing quite a lot. So this guy has written three great long novels. This may mean he's currently the best novelist in the world.


notgettingenough Paul wrote: "So this guy has written three great long novels. This may mean he's currently the best novelist in the world."

I'm at a loss to explain what it is that makes this guy so fantastic. He writes about ordinary people having shit lives in the smallest of ways. And yet he manages to be a page-turner no less say, than Larsson, whilst also writing so well. Not only that, but I never, never want to get my red pen out. Nothing feels like he's being paid by the inch. Nothing feels extraneous.

It's miserably ordinary, miserably shitty and yet heart-beats-too-fast exciting. What an achievement. As you say, it puts him right up there.

I'm glad you are so keen, Paul. Since I've spent some years of my life studying India, I've wondered if it gives me a bias other people wouldn't have, but not according to your judgment.


Paul Bryant Absolutely - he's one of the only two living novelists I would immediately buy anything by.


notgettingenough Paul wrote: "Absolutely - he's one of the only two living novelists I would immediately buy anything by."

Now, that's mean. Who is the other?


Paul Bryant Franzen. But, I think I'm lying, technically. Because I really love The Corrections and was waiting these many years for the followup - which is now out, and I haven't actually bought it yet. But I will!!


message 9: by Praj (last edited Sep 19, 2010 04:04AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Praj Nice review! Mistry is one of my all time favourite. His writings are pieces of sheer brilliance that are rarely seen otherwise.


Jason Just finished it tonight, and like you, in a few days frenzy. Nice review NGE.

Is there a relationship between British and former British subjects which makes Mistry's writing uniquely titillating? Manny & Paul from UK, NGE from Auzzie and Praj from the subcontinent. Seems to really resonate with you all, as if the words reveal a festering--but hidden wound--from a grandparents generation. Like we American blokes and stories of slavery?

There's no 'like' button on the Andriod app...


notgettingenough Jason wrote: "Just finished it tonight, and like you, in a few days frenzy. Nice review NGE.

Is there a relationship between British and former British subjects which makes Mistry's writing uniquely titillatin..."


Maybe? And India in particular perhaps? I have limited interest in reading colonially set stories otherwise - but I don't know if this is because of my particular studying interests. Maybe the others have to answer this one....


message 12: by Shovon (new)

Shovon Chowdhury I like rhubarb too.


message 13: by Nicole (new) - added it

Nicole Rhubarb was my dog's name so I loved that it is your go-to filler.


back to top