A Fine Balance
by Rohinton Mistry
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Set in mid-1970s India, a subtle and compelling narrative about four unlikely characters who come together in circumstances no one could have foreseen soon after the government declares a 'State of Internal Emergency'. It is a breathtaking achievement: panoramic yet humane, intensely political yet r... More

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Jeffrey ChoyJeffrey Choy wrote a review
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Spoiler Alert
And by turning the very last page of this literary work I finally found out the true meaning of the title. This is a story shared by four characters: Dina, Ishvar, Om and Maneck, each carried a history of their own. Dina, a widow who as well lost her father, moved out from her abusive brother, seeking for a state of dependency in the city. Ishvar, a former untouchable leather curer, successfully turned to become a tailor after his brother's long standing attempt to break away the caste system. However, this unconventional shift and his brother determination had enraged the upper castes, inflicting series of prosecution and finally led to his family extermination. Only Ishvar and his nephew could escape from the killings. Omprakash, the other survivor, a sudden orphan, was forced to join his uncle into the tailor industry, and together they needed to head to the city with their singers to make their living. And finally Maneck, who had an intriguing relationship with his parents, was being sent unwillingly to the city college, leaving his cherished village behind. So these four characters, despite their differences in background, have one thing in common: they all lived a hard life. And now they had come to the city, wishing luck would be waiting for them, while the country was shattered by the worst transformation of all time - the Emergency Act. In this darkest hour, no time was left for reminiscences, and hope was simply a luxury they couldn't afford. Every moment was just too fine to maintain a balance. The plot developed as how the emergency act had united the quartet, first gathered, then scattered. Heartrending and tear-shedding, the latest Neustadt literature laureate has provided a concise account on different type of injustices and miseries happened in the contemporary India. Definitely a must-read for everyone, especially those who always complain about their lives.
Sharon NightingaleSharon Nightingale wrote a review
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