A Fine Balance

by Rohinton Mistry

Without a doubt up there in my best books ever!
I very seldom reread books but this book I shall keep just to reread in a few years. and again a few years after that.

The story of the book tells of the lives of four main characters (and many other important ones) who, through a variety of circumstances and occurrences, land up sharing a flat in an unnamed city in India in the 70s. I want to resist the clichés of describing lives and stories as a rich tapestry; of the smells and sounds of India emerging from the page; of the hardships of lives described making me review my relatively luxurious life, but I actually cannot. This book really does do all of those things. Like the quilt Dina makes with the left over pieces of fabric used to make dresses for the rich, so the lives of the characters are an intricate combination of textures, colours and experiences. and always, these characters are the left over people, the abused by rich society, the discarded.

Mistry pulled me into the lives of the various characters in this book from the very start. I cared about them, got angry with them, cheered them on and wanted to avert my face when pain and suffering befell them. They live on in my thoughts as though real people I spent time with and now miss.

Mistry also pulled me into India in the 70s. I know very little of the history on India, but after reading this book am going to go and find more out. I am fascinated by the time of the setting of this book – how accurate is Mistry? I fear completely. But I want to know.

a most moving book which never wallows in misery.

I really want to know what won the Booker the year this book was short listed – I cannot imagine what was that much better than A Fine Balance

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