Paul Bryant's Reviews > A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
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it was amazing
bookshelves: novels

Rohinton Mistry has written three whopping novels set in India, Such a Long Journey, A Fine Balance, and Family Matters, and they're all brilliant. He doesn't have pyrotechnic prose like the DeLillos and Pynchons, he's the tortoise to their hares, he plods on with his careful beautiful pictures of the details of people's lives, the complexities and the horrors and the unnoticed pools of affection, where the money comes from and where it goes, how they get through the day and how they don't - his camera never lies. I recommend all of these three novels without any ifs or buts. You may be weeping at the end of them, because life is sad, but you won't mind that.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 1, 2007 – Finished Reading
September 27, 2007 – Shelved
December 16, 2007 – Shelved as: novels

Comments Showing 1-24 of 24 (24 new)

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message 1: by Praj (last edited May 06, 2011 09:02AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Praj Mistry writes gracefully and captures the Indian essence eloquently. He is the only author of South Asian fiction, with whom I have no complains at all.


message 2: by Donna (last edited May 06, 2011 09:04AM) (new)

Donna " ...the details of people's lives, the complexities and the horrors and the unnoticed pools of affection, where the money comes from and where it goes..."

I'm sold.


message 3: by Tuck (new)

Tuck hi praj, what about Amitav Ghosh? he seems like a good chronicler. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36...


message 4: by Velvetink (new) - added it

Velvetink I'm always crying over books ;0 This sounds good.


Praj Tuck, it may sound a bit preposterous , but reading 'Sea Of Poppies' approximated to viewing one of the 1960s Indian movies with a regional touch. Kindly, do not take my word on it, I tend to adhere callous cynicism when it comes Indian fiction.

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 6: by Megha (last edited May 06, 2011 02:42PM) (new)

Megha Tuck wrote: "hi praj, what about Amitav Ghosh? he seems like a good chronicler. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36..."

Tuck, I have read two of Ghosh's novels and was a little underwhelmed each time. I like his writing style though. In The Shadow Lines there doesn't seem to be a central idea tying the entire thing together. For the most part, the characters talk about one or the other incidents in their lives, set against the backdrop of a certain period of history, and then it just ends. Sea of Poppies does have a coherent plot, but it ended very abruptly.

I am told The Glass Palace and The Hungry Tide are the better ones of what he has written. I have yet to read either of these.


message 7: by Trish (last edited May 09, 2011 07:38PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Trish We agree at last.


Phyllis A Fine Balance is wonderful. I read it right after a trip to India a few years ago. I learned a lot from this book (and from the trip).


Carmel I havent read Such a Long Journey but loved both A Fine Balance and Family Affairs. A Fine Balance still remains my No 1 book.


message 10: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Bryant well, I envy you that you have one you haven't read yet...


message 11: by Jan (last edited Apr 15, 2012 09:16AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jan Rice This was one of the most memorable books I've ever read but also perhaps the most traumatic. As to the last phrase of your review, "...you won't mind that," well, maybe not mind it but haven't got over it yet. So I'm scared to read his other books. Color me cowardly.


message 12: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Bryant Oh well, I think you must! This is the most wrenching of the three by a long way though.


message 13: by Kalliope (new) - added it

Kalliope Megha wrote: "Tuck wrote: "hi praj, what about Amitav Ghosh? he seems like a good chronicler. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36..."

Tuck, I have read two of Ghosh's novels and was a little ..."


Sea of Poppies is the first in a trilogy, The Ibis Trilogy. The second has been published now
River of Smoke, but we are waiting for the third. I agree that the first one ended abruptly and that is why I am waiting for the third to read the second.

I am aware that your post is dated May 2011, so you may already know this.


message 14: by Kalliope (new) - added it

Kalliope Paul wrote: "Oh well, I think you must! This is the most wrenching of the three by a long way though."

Are these three a trilogy or independent of each other?


message 15: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Bryant totally independent


Priti I loved both Such and Long Journey and Family Matters, but I was disappointed in this one. 'Plods on' is about right. Maybe I read it too late.


message 17: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Bryant Maybe three was one too many. But I thought this one was the most Dickensian of the three. He's probably the only novelist I'll buy whatever he publishes.


message 18: by Jan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jan Rice A year and a half ago, Paul said, "Oh well, I think you must!" (read Mistry's other books)

I have just read a New Yorker article from September on the genocide prior to the founding of Bangladesh (which unfortunately in their wisdom they have locked so I can't post it here) that starts with a quote from Such A Long Journey. So at long last I'm adding it.


Himanshu I have yet to read Family Matters. I plan to pick it up just before his next one comes out so that I'd still be left with at least one to look forward to. He's indeed one of the best. :)


Margitte A profound read. Goodness. I almost did not make it emotionally. It will take a while to get to the next one by this author. There's some balance to restore first! Love your review, Paul.


message 21: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Bryant thanks M - I'm impatiently waiting for the next vast novel - it's very late...


message 22: by W.D. (new)

W.D. Clarke Perhaps the best Canadian novel ever?


message 23: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Bryant that or Beautiful Losers....


message 24: by W.D. (new)

W.D. Clarke Yeah!


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