someday ill be in company of all....

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A fine balance by Rohinton Mistry

Title: A fine balance
Author: Rohinton Mistry
Publisher: Faber and faber
Page: 624
Price: Rs 450
Genre: Historic fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Source: Personal

Buy A finebalance from
Buy A fine Balance from

Set during the period of emergency in India between 1975 to 1984,the novel is about Dina dalal, Ishvar Darji his nephew Omprakash Darji (both untouchables) and a young Parsi student Maneck Kohlah..Through their difference in culture and believes they are forced to be together by twist of political turmoil in India, supporting each other facing them, finding a balance..

I am on a spree reading historic fiction just to get a hang of different events in different parts of the globe , this is however closer to me as I have known all about emergency from my parents hence I needed less effort to be connected with the characters as I am surrounded by people from different culture and background all around me...Being able to feel the plot is quite different from being connected to the characters., though both feel good I love the later...A bit of information about emergency in India, the then Prime minister declared a state of emergency after supreme court declared her election as illegal..Rather giving a political correct version Mistry gives a rawness to the state of affairs like the crowd forced to the political meeting of Ms Gandhi were the crowd is asked to cheer when asked to, the police assembling the contractors and paying them to beat up the beggars..The point is the common men are ignored and their basic right to lead a life of self respect is snatched away without further thoughts...The four main characters Dina Dalal, who struggles to maintain her life on her own from an over protective brother, getting Ishvar darji and his nephew Omprakash Darji to assisst her in her tailoring shop..Untouchables in India are those people belonging to minority community who were not allowed to mingle freely with the majority of the educated class who claimed to be of higher caste..Though the constitution of India has abolished untouchability providing reserved seats to them for better education and job , yet there are still a part of people suffering from it...Dina to support herself , lets Maneck Kohlah to stay in her house as a tenant..From suspicion to friendship then to affection the story moves through human ardor connecting all the four characters... The story ends with the Indira Gandhi's assassination..People still hold on to faint hope for a better future..What I loved about Mistry's writing is the description of the everyday lives of the characters, every trivial piece of information has been well written , his own lineage might have helped him through...Mistry is a beautiful story weaver lending penetrating dialogues..Each character has been beautifully imbibed with their backgrounds , Maneck with his mountain village, The Darjis' from being sufferingChamar untouchables to struggling through everyday lives  in Mumbai... Through the last three books what I found in common was that, even facing the most horrendous situatios, its the affection, love and trust that renders strength to live by and how a simple political decisions affects the common life adversely...The pace of the book was slow compared to previous two books I reviewed, still it had all charm and lively read..This book is yet another haunting tale that will leave you numb...

This is my 12th book in south asian reading challenge 2012

And 6th in New author challenge 2012


  1. Great commentary as always VB!

    As you allude to here, I find from personal experience that reading about historical events that one's parents or other close relatives and acquaintances experienced really creates a sense of reality to a work of fiction. It is also educational and allows us to see alternate points of view that are close to us yet different.

    When it comes to Indian History of the past one hundred years or so I am familiar with the basics but that is it. This book sounds enlightening.

  2. Jeez. This book has been on my TBR list for over a decade and I still haven't picked it up. Glad you enjoyed it.


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