A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance

Book - 1995
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In 1975, in an unidentified Indian city, Mrs. Dina Dalal, a financially pressed Parsi widow in her early 40s sets up a sweatshop of sorts in her ramshackle apartment. Determined to remain financially independent and to avoid a second marriage, she takes in a boarder and two Hindu tailors to sew dresses for an export company. As the four share their stories, then meals, then living space, human kinship prevails and the four become a kind of family, despite the lines of caste, class, and religion. When tragedy strikes, their cherished, newfound stability is threatened, and each character must face a difficult choice in trying to salvage their relationships.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c1995, 1997
ISBN: 9780771060540
Characteristics: 603 p. ; 25 cm


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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......

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.

Mar 16, 2017

excellent .great story.

Jan 19, 2017

This book was like standing in a busy city center and being unable to block out the white noise. Mistry makes us pay attention to everything which can be frustrating as this rich description can be distracting from the narratives. Several hundred pages in I found myself wondering who was important and what connected them to the other characters. Unfortunately by that point, I just didn't care. This book is dense, and bleak, and full of rich beautiful language but it never inspired the fervor in me that others seemed to experience.

Jun 30, 2016

A gut wrenching story that stirs a beautiful mix of emotions in you from sadness to laughter and everything in between. I really enjoyed this book.

Mar 22, 2016

It's been many years since I read this book, but it's one of the few I will never forget. In my top 10 list.

Dec 30, 2015

One of the best books I have ever read. Rohinton Mistry is a craftsman, a storyteller of the highest order. The flow of the interweaving stories and the character development were especially rewarding. Heart warming and tear jerking at the same time...not unlike our own lives. A fine balance between hope and despair.

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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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