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Brendan

Daly City, CA, USA | Member Since 2005

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  • A Fine Balance

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Rohinton Mistry
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (611)
    Performance
    (305)
    Story
    (303)

    In the India of the mid-1970s, Indira Gandhi's government has just come to power. It institutionalizes corruption and arbitrary force, most oppressive to the poorest and weakest people under its sway. Against this backdrop, in an unnamed city by the sea, four people struggle to survive. Dina, Maneck, and two tailors, the Untouchables Om and Ishvar, who are sewing in Dina's service, undergo a series of reversals.

    JOHN says: "Nearly a perfect book"
    "A Fine Imbalance"
    Overall

    Mistry's novel is slow to start, and the characters at first seem kind of boring. But the genuine humanity of both Dina and Ishvar is hard to ignore and after a while sucks the reader into their lives. And one could say these two characters are the foundation of the book. Mistry has drawn such compelling figures, that it's hard not to be drawn into the story of their all too brief happiness and their all too great hardship. And this is where the "Balance" or imbalance comes in. The book is built around semi-alternating episodes of happiness and hardship, and the title refers to the balance they create in life. They each reinforce and justify the other. But the balance is hardly fine in this book. Even though it is a great story, which brings to mind the oft-referred to Dickens in its scope and subject, it is not a happy one. The abject poverty of the country comes alive. Indeed some of the most compelling characters of the novel are background characters who at times upstage the central ones in their vivid portrayals. But it seems for every vivid character we are shown an equally vivid harship. And these hardships, one might say, upset the balance and outweigh the happiness. But then maybe that's the point. The bright parts of the book, however small, must carry the characters(and the reader) through the dark parts because that's all they have and they must make do with it.

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