A Fine Balance
The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers--a spirited widow, a young student uproote ...more
I stayed up all night to finish this book, because the climax is simply unputdownable. I am hesitant to formally review it because it's one of those few books that can't be confined within the bounds of a critique or summary, and one that is so magnificent and moving that the idea of reviewing it makes me feel insolent already! So I'll just note what I feel about the book, and the kind of effect it's had on me.
It's grim. Very grim. There are moments of tragicomedy, of overjoyed glimpses of the s ...more
A Fine Balance
I sometimes take a moment to focus on the corner of my office. The way the two walls come together forming a line, a demarcation. I think of it as bringi ...more
Hence started my journey of a fine book, A Fine Balance. I have no sane excuse for my ignorance about Rohinton Mistry novels. I just didn’t have a single clue about him or his achievements till I joined Goodreads. Yes!! Though it’s not a big deal as one is not supposed to know everything but here’s a writer of Indian origin, writing unbelievably great books about Indians and is still remain unacknowledged by a common Indian reader is ...more
A Fine Balan ...more
“Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta’en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
And show the heavens more just.”
~ King Lear
“Why did I dislike him so much, she asked herself? Where humans were concerned, the only emotion th...more
Rohinton Mistry introduces his four main characters and their individual stories one by one until they merge together sharing a cramped apartment in a world of starvation, suffering and despair.
With civil unrest and demonstrations against a corrupt government on the rise, our protagonists needlessly endure despicable injustices to both body and so...more
TOO HARD *NOT* TO SHARE SOMETHING ( even for a review-retiree),....
There are a million things I loved about this book.
I chewed and sipped slowly.... pausing to ponder little moments:
“He speaks to trees and rocks, and pats them like they were his dogs”.
I relate to ‘aging’ ownership with nature.
My tree in our front yard & I have been growing old together for 40 years. Our trunks are both thicker. Our leaves more brittle - Our love & stories with d ...more
My only real issue was that I loved the writing WAY more than the actual story.
And what’s not to like about Mistry's beautifully-crafted prose? I drooled over his penmanship and revelled in his wordplay. Like Rushdie and Shakespeare, he intermingles pathos with humour.
The story, though, didn’t grab me by the ears and snog me.
Which is why it drops one star.
A man with paralyzed legs lies on his itchy straw bed, staring at the murky ceiling that seems closing in on him, as his eyes have been fixating it for too long. The time seems reluctant to move on as there is no sign of movements around him; the world seems to have divorced him. His room has no windows that rewarded him with a view of a green patch or a shimmering rivulet to vouch for his existence. The life, as it seems, has no prospect, he thought. As the bleak moments ostensibly passed, he, ...more
The book's first four pages were partially folded from use, not to signify any ...more
The four main characters, Dina, Maneck, Ishvar and Om, are drawn with so much detail and clarity, that I felt by the end that I had traveled a road with them and knew them intimately. They are far from being the only characters to ha ...more
Mistry's novel traces the lives of four people over the period of about one year when they come together under one roof. That one year is also year one into Indira Ghandi's State of Emergency, declared after the Indian Supreme Court rules her election illegal.
There are some excellent set peices. notgettingenough's review describes one. I won't repeat it here ...more
I know this is a good book and that Mr. Mistry is an excellent writer. The use of language is mostly elegant, vivid and the stories interweave in a logical and natural way. There was not a dull moment to be had in this sprawling saga set in 1970s India. The characters were likable and their struggles are real, heart-wrenching and horrendous.
I have a HUGE issue though with the presentation of the characters' emotional and psychological lives. Although ...more
This was life? Or a cruel joke? He no longer believed that the scales would ever balance fairly. If his pan was not empty, if there was some little sustenance in it for his days and nights, it was enough for him.
This is one book that made me want to clutch the life I live, as some blanket of security, and hide within. I have never known what it is to live with such constant uncertainty. That one could be completely uprooted today, the next day, or any day. Each day of struggle, each day of ...more
And someday, I hope these words will find me again. These words, these thoughts will help me accept the despair that is this thing called life.
Despair in ...more
(I am told some sort of word minimum is necessary on this site. In order to conform....
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Let me tell you a secret: there is no such thing as an uninteresting life.
Interesting doesn’t even begin to describe the eventful and painful year in the lives of four Mumbai residents, at the times of the Emergency – a period of civil unrest and government crackdown declared by the Prime Minister of India in 1975 as a final straw in her efforts to keep her political power in the face of vigorous opposition. While the politicians are playing their high stakes games, it is the simple people w ...more
Mistry weaves together the stories of four main protagonists whose fates are thrown together by the upheavals of India's Emergency in 1975. Dina is a Parsee widow, with a rich family but struggling to maintain her independence in her late husband's flat. She employs Ishvar and Om, two tailors taking refuge from their rural community after reprisals following their family's refusal to conform to the expectations of their lo ...more
The narration starts around the time when emergency is declared in India. We have Dina Dilal, the strongest character in the book who holds fort despite a marriage of ...more
The book has a relatively small number of characters for its length – many of whom interact with different of the major characters at different times.
The book is fond of co-incidence – e.g. the three male main characters meet on the tra ...more
This is one of those heartrending books that would be burned into my memory. The story of the four main characters is told in a calm, understated and sometimes dry-humored tone, but the characters, their poignant back stories as well as the settings just jump right off the page. The whirlpool of corrupt and brutal politics, the inhumane caste system, ethnic hatred, sexual abuses, abject poverty and social despair gives the narrative a pulsating realism that keeps the reader well-grounded in its ...more
(completely forgot to review this; too busy trying to un-depress myself).
If you were following along with some of my updates for Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance, you might've detected a bit of my cynicism poking through toward the end of this 600 page behmoth novel of India's woes. I was starting to reach a breaking point: how much calcuated heartache could
Yeah (Lobstergirl), this is probably one of the m ...more
Mistry’s first novel, Such a Long Journey (1991), brought him national and international recognition. Mistry’s subsequent novels have achieved the same level of recognition as his first. His second n ...more