A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance

Book - 1995
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For use in schools and libraries only. In mid-1970s India, after a "state of internal emergency" is declared, four diverse people--a widowed seamstress, a student, and a man and his nephew who have fled their village--find their lives inextricably intertwined.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c1995
ISBN: 9780771060526
Branch Call Number: FIC Mistr 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 748 p


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tourist2 Oct 05, 2010

My favourite book!

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Jun 26, 2019

There is a flow in the way this man tells a story. It’s fluid and it carries my along with it until I’m swept up and can’t stop thinking about the characters and their lives.

Apr 02, 2019

Absolutely EXCELLENT. I couldn't put it down...a really good story and I also learned so much. Don't miss!!!

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."

Jan 27, 2018

heart-wrenching collection of human misery

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.

Jan 01, 2018

Very sad story

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.

Sep 12, 2017

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

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.

Jun 15, 2017

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

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bidbid Jul 18, 2011

bidbid thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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.

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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Sep 16, 2007

Violence: there is a lot of cruelty.


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