A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance

A Novel

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With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India. 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 uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village, will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.
Publisher: ** E-Book // Click on DOWNLOAD link to place holds
Edition: EBOOK TEXT
ISBN: 9780307523631
Branch Call Number: EBOOK TEXT
Alternative Title: OverDrive

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l
lukasevansherman
Oct 10, 2018

"In the end, it's all a question of balance."
Magnificent, sweeping novel set in tumultuous 1970s India. At 600 pages, it's both panoramic and intimate. While the background is political and social unrest (corruption, police raids, religious strife, clearing slums, forced labor), the story focuses on four character: a proud widow who runs a sewing shop, the two tailors who work for her and strive for a better life, and her young college student relative. There is a lot of pain and a lot of suffering in this novel, but it doesn't grow bleak or oppressive. Mistry, who also wrote "Such a Long Journey," has an enormous compassion and empathy for his characters, which is what great literature does. One of the great novels of the past few decades.
"After all, our lives are but a sequence of accidents-a clanking chain of chance events. A string of choices, casual or deliberate, which add up that one big calamity we call life."

d
daizdaizsun
Jan 27, 2018

heart-wrenching collection of human misery

c
Calibro
Jan 17, 2018

Prior to going to India for the first time, I read several books set in contemporary India. Now, after returning from that absolutely incredible country, "A Fine Balance" has given me a new perspective on what I saw and experienced. This book is rich in detail, a wonderful story in some of the best writing I have ever read - some of it quite funny. Quite heart rendering.

l
lotussmile
Jan 01, 2018

Very sad story

s
Spokoj
Oct 01, 2017

Definitely a five star novel! It covers the period in India from independence in 1946 to 1984 with well-developed characters. Makes the novels about neurotic couples and so-called seekers of enlightenment rather pitiful when you complete this novel. Several years ago I had a one week business trip in New Delhi and this novel brought back the sights and sounds of India most vividly.

t
traceyrb
Sep 12, 2017

An exceptional book. If you think you are poor think again.

k
kathylou
Aug 12, 2017

I have read many books set in India and books by Indian writers since my trip to that strange country. There are many fabulous books about life in India and this one seemed pretty good. However, after reading 24%, I decided it just wasn't covering any new ground and went on to another book.

k
kafkakat
Jun 15, 2017

The most riveting, visceral journey of fiction I have ever read......

a
avalon01
May 14, 2017

A Fine Balance is much, much more than fine. Truly an incredible story that will rank
with the best reads you will ever encounter. It breezes to the 5 star category.

m
mehrsar
Mar 16, 2017

excellent .great story.

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bidbid Jul 18, 2011

bidbid thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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Japanda
Sep 16, 2007

Japanda thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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randallflagg Mar 03, 2012

From Wikipedia

The book exposes the changes in Indian society from independence in 1947 to the Emergency called by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Mistry is generally critical of P. M. Gandhi in the book. Interestingly, however, Gandhi is never referred to by name by any of the characters, and is instead called simply "the prime minister". The characters, from diverse backgrounds, are all brought together by economic forces changing India.

Ishvar and Omprakash's family is part of the Chamaar caste, who traditionally cured leather and were considered untouchable. In an attempt to break away from the restrictive caste system, Ishvar's father apprentices his sons Ishvar and Narayan to a Muslim tailor, Ashraf Chacha, in a nearby village, and so they became tailors. As a result of their skills, which are also passed on to Narayan's son Omprakash (Om), Ishvar and Om move to Mumbai to get work, by then unavailable in the town near their village because a pre-made clothing shop has opened.

Maneck, from a small mountain village in northern India, moves to the city to acquire a college certificate "as a back-up" in case his father's soft drink business is no longer able to compete after the building of a highway near their village.

Dina, from a traditionally wealthy family, maintains tenuous independence from her brother by living in the flat of her deceased husband, who was a chemist.

Dina distances herself from the political ferment of the period: "Government problems and games played by people in power," she tells Ishvar. "It doesn't affect ordinary people like us" (Mistry, 86). But in the end it does affect all of them, drastically.

At the beginning of the book, the two tailors, Ishvar and Omprakash, are on their way to the flat of Dina Dalal via a train. While on the train, they meet a college student named Maneck Kohlah, who coincidentally is also on his way to the flat of Dina Dalal to be a boarder. They become friends and go to Dina's flat together. Dina hires Ishvar and Om for piecework, and agrees to let Maneck stay with her. Dina then reflects on her past and how she was brought to her current situation.

j
Japanda
Sep 16, 2007

Dinah is trying to start and independent life. She will meet two tailors, and a college student all who will stay with her for a time. All 4 of these characters have sad and interesting pasts.

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j
Japanda
Sep 16, 2007

Violence: there is a lot of cruelty.

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