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A Fine Balance | [Rohinton Mistry]

A Fine Balance

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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, punctuated only by small mocking advances, that start them on a trajectory towards unhappiness and despair. Yet, in choosing what they will do, they exhibit a basic dignity and humanity that belies their mistreatment as part of the underclass. By merely surviving until their load becomes unbearable, and then living on past that point, they have accomplished something.

©1995 Rohinton Mistry; (P)2001 Books on Tape, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Mistry...needs no infusion of magic realism to vivify the real. The real world, through his eyes, is magical." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Patti Monroe Township, NJ, USA 01-19-09
    Patti Monroe Township, NJ, USA 01-19-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    8
    2
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    Overall
    "So unrewarding"

    One would think that there would be some good coming out of all of the horrible struggles that these characters endure. I was so disappointed when I reached the end of the book. If you want to feel complete dispair at the end of a long "read", than do read this book!

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judith 08-04-07
    Judith 08-04-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    35
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    68
    6
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    1
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    Overall
    "cruelty for cruelty's sake"

    This is a very well-written book, but it left me very angry. i felt the writer used his great talent to plainly manipulate the reader. The structure of this rather long book becomes quite predictable after a while: nice, sweet relaxed parts followed by gruesome cruel ones. The "bad" parts become more and more intolerable, and once you realize the pattern you kind of dread what's to follow.
    As i said, the book is very manipulative. Like a horror film made by a talented director, whose main objective is to leave you shaken and breathless. This requires writing skills, no doubt, but it's far from being "good literature" or even just literature for that matter.
    The narration is very good, which, in a way makes things even worse. It's as if the narrator is an accomplice to the writer's manipulative story-telling.
    It is especially pitiful as Mr. Mistry is such a fine writer. His other books are really good. He knows better, no doubt.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Tucson, AZ, USA 08-07-07
    Nancy Tucson, AZ, USA 08-07-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
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    33
    8
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    "well done but dismal"

    I know many have listened to this book and given it very high ratings. It wasn't until I finished it that I realized that the plot was one catastrophe after another. The characters were well developed and the writing is well deserving of three stars but I found the book generally depressing.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    The Fan Los Angeles, CA USA 08-01-06
    The Fan Los Angeles, CA USA 08-01-06 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
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    Overall
    "Perfect"

    This is a wonderful book, beautifully written and read. An unforgettable experience.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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