Adenike Adebiyi's Reviews > A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
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Aug 31, 11

Read in July, 2005

You know you've read a good book when for days you can't stop thinking about it, when you find it difficult to separate fiction from reality, when you feel as if you've met the characters in the book in a past life. The book is set in India in the days of Indira Gandhi, when corruption was the norm and the Indian caste system was still held strongly in the villages. An uncle (Ishvar) and his nephew (Om), members of a lower-caste, the Chamaar caste of tanners and leather workers, were apprenticed as tailors with the hopes of them escaping their traditional cobbler life, which among other things included fighting for carcasses of animals from the upper-caste after they had died a natural death and eating the parts of the carcasses that could not be used for leather. Following slaughtering of their family by a member of the upper-caste, Ishvar and Om run away to the city. They meet misfortune at every turning, but also find lasting friendship in a widow (Dina) who struggled to survive alone in a corrupt world where she has little value as a widow. Admist the tales of misfortunes, you will find yourself longing to taste many of the Indian dishes made by Ishvar and Om. You might even pick up a tip or two about getting rid of head lice and intestinal worms.
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