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A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance

by Rohinton Mistry

  • LITERATURE
  • 1997
  • PAPER
  • 624 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

The secret to life, according to a recurring character in this sprawling tale, is "to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair." Set in 1975 in an unnamed Indian "city by the sea," which seems to bear a striking resemblance to Bombay, this tender novel follows the intermingled fortunes of a Parsi widow, a college student who is her boarder, and two Hindu tailors trying to make their way in the city. Each character is meticulously drawn, and the often harrowing background stories (including some murderous caste violence in the tailors' family) are interweaved through the main narrative, which finds the four thrown briefly, and eventually very happily, together in a tiny flat. All this is set against the background of Indira Gandhi's "emergency Raj," in which civil liberties were essentially suspended. It's all profoundly moving, a rare window into the cultural and religious maelstrom of India. One of the best things we've read on India, and a fine piece of literature. A Booker Prize finalist.  (IDA92, $17.00)


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