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A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance

Book rating: 05 Paperback Oprah's Book Club

By (author) Mistry Rohinton

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  • Publisher: Vintage Books
  • Format: Paperback | 624 pages
  • Dimensions: 149mm x 214mm x 19mm | 358g
  • Publication date: 1 September 2005
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 140003065X
  • ISBN 13: 9781400030651
  • Edition statement: Vintage Intl.
  • Sales rank: 35,497

Product description

With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall masters from Balzac to Dickens, this magnificant novel caputures 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 cast violence of their native village--will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.As the cahracters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love. "A Fine Balance" creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.

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Author information

Rohinton Mistry was born in Bombay and now lives near Toronto. His first novel, Such a Long Journey, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and received, among other awards, the Governor General's Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book of the Year. A Fine Balance""is his second novel, winner of the "Los Angeles Times "Book Prize in Fiction, the Giller Prize, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize as well as a Booker Prize finalist. Mistry is also the author of Swimming Lessons, a collection of short stories.

Customer reviews

By Michael Johnston 07 Sep 2011 5

Last night, I finished a remarkable book. I would go as far as to say that it can be compared with Tolstoy's Anna Karenina or even his War and Peace. In the final pages of A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, one of the main characters does step in front of an express train. The reason for my comparisons and my positive feelings about this book are not, however, simply that coincidence but the fact that it takes the lives of a number of individuals in and around Delhi from 1947 to 1984 and interweaves them in great detail as they are affected and react to the historical changes that rent India over those years. The language is very much Indian English, even occasionally Hindi, but written with the insight of a poet. It is a modern Indian tragedy leavened with humour but not filtered through any layers of sentimentality. It is stark, revealing and frighteningly gory in its depiction of the caste system, the Partition troubles, the daily grind of living in the city and up in the hill stations, the excesses of Mrs Gandhi's Emergency and her assassination. The lives described are hardly those of the privileged or successful but start at the lowest levels with the Untouchables and the beggars whose lives are seemingly both predestined and somehow destined not to improve. I feel both purged and privileged to have read it.

Review quote

"Astonishing. . . . A rich and varied spectacle, full of wisdom and laughter and the touches of the unexpectedly familiar through which literature illuminates life." --"Wall Street Journal ""A serious and important work . . . the product of high intelligence and passionate conviction."""--"New York Review of Books ""Monumental. . . . Few have caught the real sorrow and inexplicable strength of India, the unaccountable crookedness and sweetness, as well as Mistry." --Pico Iyer, "Time ""Those who continue to harp on the decline of the novel . . . ought to consider Rohinton Mistry. He needs no infusion of magic realism to vivify the real. The real world, through his eyes, is magical." --"The New York Times"

Flap copy

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. As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.