Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 603 pages
Audiobook Length: 24 hours and 24 minutes
First Published: 1995
In 1975, the Indian government declares a state of emergency that forces a widow to take in a student boarder and two tailors fleeing caste violence and seeking work. In a deep examination of human nature, Mistry presents a character-driven story that completely draws you in while explaining the larger political landscape that affects them on an individual basis. Bleak, yet beautiful, Mistry’s epic novel explores the fine balance between hope and despair.
I’ve put off A Fine Balance for almost a decade, intimidated by its length. What a mistake. The tale is such an enveloping enjoyable read that you almost wish it was longer. Don’t get me wrong, the tale is far from joyful – a depressing dive into endemic poverty, caste violence, and racism. Yet, the power of the writing is simply awe-inspiring.
With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India.
The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers–a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village–will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.
As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.
Quotes from A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Flirting with madness was one thing; when madness started flirting back, it was time to call the whole thing off.
The human face has limited space. If you fill it with laughter there will be no room for crying.
Distance was a dangerous thing, she knew. Distance changed people.
If there was an abundance of misery in the world, there was also sufficient joy, yes – as long as one knew where to look for it.