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... read more
Set in the mid 70s, during India's Emergency period, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, defying a court order calling for her resignation, declares a state of emergency and imprisons the parliamentary opposition as well as thousands of students, teachers, trade unionists and journalists. These... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Set in the mid 70s, during India's Emergency period, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, defying a court order calling for her resignation, declares a state of emergency and imprisons the parliamentary opposition as well as thousands of students, teachers, trade unionists and journalists. These events, along with the government's forced sterilization campaign, serve as backdrop for an intricate tale of four ordinary people struggling to survive. A Fine Balance tells of how four unlikely characters came together. Two tailors, Ishavar and Om, come from a family which challenged the caste system; they travel from their village to the big city in the hope of carving out a better life for themselves. Maneck also travels to the big city; his parents also have hopes for a better life for him although he would prefer to stay at home and be part of the family business. In the city, Dina Dalal is a young, beautiful widow; as her home and livelihood are threatened Ishavar, Om and Maneck become a financial lifeline for her. All four become interdepedent in the difficult life of the city.
With great empathy and wit, the Bombay-born, Toronto-based Mistry evokes the daily heroism of India's working poor, who must cope with corruption, social anarchy and bureaucratic absurdities. Though the sprawling, chatty narrative risks becoming as unwieldy as the lives it so vibrantly depicts, Mistry combines an openness to India's infinite sensory detail with a Dickensian rendering of the effects of poverty, caste, envy, superstition,corruption and bigotry. His vast, wonderfully precise canvas poses, but cannot answer, the riddle of how to transform a corrupt, ailing society into a healthy one.
Rohinton Mistry is fine writer, creating an alien world and drawing you into it. In addition to the main characters there are a host of associates who are intricately created and humanised. His demonstrates the vulnerability of poverty, the sheer effort that survival can take. And he shows how human kindness is at the root of that survival; the superhuman ability to persevere.
I loved this book while I was reading it. Now I feel a loss.
“A shiver ran down her spine. She decided enough was enough. Flirting with madness was one thing; when madness started flirting back, it was time to call the whole thing off.”
“'You know, Maneck, the human face has limited space. My mother used to say, if you fill your face with laughing, there will be no room for crying.''What a nice saying,' he answered bitterly.'Right now, Dinabai's face, and Om's, and mine are all occupied. Worrying about work and money, and where to sleep tonight. But that does not mean we are not sad. It may not show on the face, but it's sitting inside here.' He placed his hand over his heart. 'In here, there is limitless room - happiness, kindness, sorrow, anger, friendship - everything fits in here.'”
beyond them. Sometimes you have to use your failures as stepping-stones to success. You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair.” He paused, considering what he had just said. “Yes,” he repeated. “In the end, it's all a question of balance.”Highlighted by 6 Kindle customers
Please always remember, the secret of survival is to embrace change, and to adapt. To quote: ‘All things fall and are built again, and those that build them again are gay.’“Highlighted by 6 Kindle customers
it was all part of living, that the secret of survival was to balance hope and despair, to embrace change.Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
Chapter 1, City by the Sea
Chapter 2, For Dreams to Grow
Chapter 3, In A Village by a River
Chapter 4, Small Obstacles
Chapter 5, Mountains
Chapter 6, Day at the Circus, Night in the Slum
Chapter 7, On the Move
Chapter 8, Beautification
Chapter 9, What Law There Is
Chapter 10, Sailing Under One Flag
Chapter 11, The Bright Future Clouded
Chapter 12, Trace of Destiny
Chapter 13, Weddings, Worms and Sanyas
Chapter 14, Return of Solitude
Chapter 15, Family Planning
Chapter 16, The Circle Is Complete
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