“Tien H said: Rating: 4.5
Dukhi Mochi is a cobbler; he belongs to the Chamaar caste of tanners & leather-workers, one of the lowest caste in India. Longing for a better future for his sons, Ishvar & Narayan, he apprenticed them to his friend, Ashraf the tailor. The book begins however with Ishvar & his nephew, Omprakash, on a train journey to seek employment as tailors in the city by the sea. On this train trip they met Maneck Kohlah, a student, seeking to escape the hostel he was living in. Ishvar, Omprakash, & Maneck ended living together under Dina Dalal’s roof. The book reveals the history of each 4 characters, their year together, and concluded with an epilogue set 10 years later. Each characters have had their own tribulations in the past but now are together and looking forward to face the future positively. However, Ishvar & Om always seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and so many misadventures befell them. Is the future as bright as they wish for?
On a more personal note, I find the end a little bit depressing, I can’t but help to wish for a more uplifting one. It is very realistic for 3 of the characters which I don’t mind at all but I truly wish for a better one for the other.
LibraryCin said: 3.5 stars
It is India in the 1970s. The government calls this time the Emergency. They are trying to convince citizens to get sterilized, so not as many people are being born into the country. Dina is a widow; she was only married for three years when her husband passed away. Though she was still young, she refused to remarry so has to scrimp and save to avoid asking her brother to help her pay her rent on the apartment her husband left her. Ishvar and Omprakash (uncle and nephew) are tailors who come to work for her. Maneck is a friend's son, who needs a place to stay while he attends college, so his rent money also helps out Dina.
I read this a number of years ago and remember it being good. I don't usually reread, but this was chosen for my book club, so I thought I'd give the audio a try. John Lee was the narrator and he is always very good. He really is amazing at every accent! I remembered next to nothing of the book. It is not a happy book, but it was good. It is a long book, and there is a big cast of characters. It's nice to see the four main characters' relationships develop, while also learning about how they came to be where they are "now".
againstthetide said: 5 stars plus a heart
Set in India in the 1970's, A Fine Balance is an epic tale of four people - a widow, a student, and two tailors - who end up sharing a very small flat during a very difficult political time period. What makes this book so compelling is that by the end you feel that you completely know these four people . . .and you are hoping beyond hope for the best for them every step of the way.
This book was truly right up my alley. Books set in India just fascinate me in general. It is a society so different from our own, and I'm fascinated by the caste system, the religions, the economic despair, and just the totally different culture than our own. A Fine Balance is also very dark. I experienced the gamut of emotion throughout the book as I fell in love with each character, but the characters must contend with challenges that are almost beyond the American imagination. There is that faint hope as you see how the spirit contends with just the hardest of situations, but it's just more realistic than most books.
That being said, I feel very sad that it is over (all 600 pages) because I felt like I knew these characters so well that I just wanted to continue to read about them until there was nothing left to tell. Just fantastic storytelling and character development.”