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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel for our times
Rohinton Mistry is a gifted writer. With A Fine Balance he proves he can writer about the human soul and social condition with the same love for both aspects of life. Moreover, there aren't many writers around there who can keep readers' attention for more than 600 pages. In 'A Fine Balance' there is something going on in every chapter, and from time to time, a new...
Published on June 22 2003 by A. T. A. Oliveira

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 1,000 pages of MISERY
Picked this book up initially because I wanted to get a taste of India... SOLID WRITING peaked my interest and I was soon captivated by the characters. But it started to get a little depressing...I had been warned, "oh don't read that, it only gets worse". Pshw! I figured I could handle it... This is unquestionably THE MOST DEPRESSING BOOK EVER! I was SO ANGRY with the...
Published on Sept. 17 2009 by CyGrrl


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel for our times, June 22 2003
This review is from: A Fine Balance (Paperback)
Rohinton Mistry is a gifted writer. With A Fine Balance he proves he can writer about the human soul and social condition with the same love for both aspects of life. Moreover, there aren't many writers around there who can keep readers' attention for more than 600 pages. In 'A Fine Balance' there is something going on in every chapter, and from time to time, a new characters pops up, and he/she is as well developed as those who are presented at page one.
In my opinion, 'Balance' is, among other things, about the social condition overcoming the human codition. Not only are the main characters struggling to survive, but they also need to fight in order not to lose their human condition, and become animals. And, believe me, in their times and place, it was not an easy thing. The book also succeeds when shows how politics interferes in everybody's lives --even in the one who are not interested in that.
'A Fine Balance' is a great book and a wonderful read. But I something weird happened to me when reading it. On one hand I wanted to read it as much as I could, all the time, on the other, once I put it down, I wasn't very excited to get back to it again, but once I got I would read 30, 40 pages in a row. This thing had never happened to me. Maybe because I was scared to find out that no matter how bad life is, it can always get worse. In the book when you think that the characters' lives are bad and there is nothing else to happen to them, think again...
Mistry has written a book for our times. You may not like it, or even understand, but it is impossible to finish it and still think in the same way about life, about being a human being.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 1,000 pages of MISERY, Sept. 17 2009
This review is from: A Fine Balance (Paperback)
Picked this book up initially because I wanted to get a taste of India... SOLID WRITING peaked my interest and I was soon captivated by the characters. But it started to get a little depressing...I had been warned, "oh don't read that, it only gets worse". Pshw! I figured I could handle it... This is unquestionably THE MOST DEPRESSING BOOK EVER! I was SO ANGRY with the author when I finished reading that I wanted to throw the book at the wall and call him up to tell him how upset I was... But over time, no other story/characters have ever HAUNTED me like this.
Don't let the size of the book deter you... THIS IS A MASTERPIECE and worth the read, but its still the most disturbing book I've ever encountered. This is India.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An antidote to thinking everything will work out, June 15 2003
By 
Jim Bernhardt (Arlington, VA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Fine Balance (Paperback)
As I came closer and closer to the end of this book I read slower and slower. The four main characters, Dina, Maneck, Om and Ishvar had a hold on me and I didn't want them to let go. I wanted Dina to be happy, Om to get married, Ishvar and Dina to build on their growing friendship, and Maneck to do well in school and work. But, things don't always work out. In this book, it seems nothing works out. Four people lost at the bottom of a corrupt society and dysfunctional government didn't have a chance.
A Fine Balance reads well. It has the feel of a 19th century family novel, Tolstoy without the sermon. Get a good glass of wine (or a case), a comfortable chair, and enjoy a good book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A touching book, May 23 2002
This review is from: A Fine Balance (Paperback)
I was sitting in my foreign policy of India class and my teacher started discussing about the lives of people in the untouchable castes; he stated that most of them end up going into the leather and tanning business...and I thought "yeah thats Omprakash and Ishvar said"...
This is what "A Fine Balance" will do to you, the characters will become real to you.
Each main character and their complicated relations with one another is well developed in this approxiamately six hundred page book. Even the peripherial characters become accessible in this book. They become your friends and you end up wanting the best for all of them, but Mistry is too much of a realist to settle for happily ever endings.
Mistry gives a very frank account of life during the emergency in India and all the misfortunes that happened during that time. Instead of sparing readers of reality, he illustrates what happened to many people in India during that time. Castration, deaths and political corruption were typical of India during the emergency. Mistry attempts to make this historical account more alive and touching by using characters in his story to demonstrate how horrific life was during this time...and he succeeds.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finely wrought, finely honed, May 31 2013
This review is from: A Fine Balance (Paperback)
Review of A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry,

Review by Don Doell

Sadly, I must admit that this book should be considered a classic. Although the plot, characterization and writing all contribute to an easy, enjoyable read, the events of this story caused me to shudder, not at the inventiveness of the author at creating such horrific acts, but rather at the inhumanity of man. Mistry has given a taste of India of the 1970’s that will not soon be forgotten.
This fictional work is a tour de force, a novel to change hearts and minds. Mistry uses the history of the period as a backdrop to the quiet lives of desperation of the lives of the lower classes and castes of Indian society. Mistry masterfully weaves the intertwining stories of the primary and secondary characters of this distopic, though realistic vision of India. The corruption of local and national politics, the power of the upper castes and their disdain for the lower, the different regions of north and central India, the subtleties of how life is lived by people struggling to maintain a certain level of success and privilege and the complexities of ordinary people dealing with the life that has befallen them, all of this and more are shaped, molded, carved and hammered into your consciousness by the end of this magisterial work.
By the end of the story, by the time you have lived and breathed the rarified air of the high country, sweltered in the heat and humidity of the slums; by the time you have been gobsmacked by the brutality and utter ruthlessness of those in power and how the machinery of state down to the lowliest of bureaucrats and those on the outside of that level who still try to worm a living out of the desperation of the poor and oppressed; by the time you have felt the desperation of Dinabai, Ishvar, Omprakash and Maneck, you will be sobered, challenged, and perhaps, like me, stunned by the trials of the characters Mistry has depicted before your eyes.
The blurb on the back cover of my copy is, for once, not hyperbole, and gives a factual account of the contents;
“Set against the emergency measures imposed by Indira Gandhi in the mid-1970s, the novel follows the lives of four unlikely people as they struggle “to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair.”…
A Fine Balance is a warning about the human terrors that await a society without compassion. It is also, at the same time, a testimony to the enduring greatness of the human spirit.”
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply the best book I have ever read., June 26 2011
By 
Kerrie Jaques "kjaques" (Vancouver, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Fine Balance (Paperback)
I began this book having no clue what to expect. I grew up very hick, and all I knew of the world was what I saw in the BBC. I married and Indian woman, and wanted to learn a bit of her culture through fiction first. I began reading it, and although it was interesting, it didn't grab me. After the scene where Narayan is tortured, I put it down. I found Mistry's description far too real, and that scene literally hurt me. Then I went to India. Seeing how people lived, and hearing stories about what life really was during The Emergency made me want to start reading the book again. Experiencing the culture, and seeing the horrors and deformities some people have to live with opened my eyes to the world. So I picked up the book and made my way through it, and I am so glad I did. I felt like I knew Om and Ishvar when it was all over, and I envied how they could continue to enjoy life while hell often rained down on them. To those of you who hated it, or found it depressing, I wish I could borrow your rose colored glasses, for this was real life in India in 1976. These things happened to real people! Deal with it! This book made me realize that some of the things that depress me aren't that bad. In closing, I have to say this; the people of India (that I met) are much like Om and Ishvar. Many have seen and experienced things that you can't imagine, yet they are so happy, so kind, and so alive!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest novels you will ever read, April 5 2010
By 
R. Blacklock (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Fine Balance (Paperback)
I read this book many years ago, but still can't get it out of my mind. It is staggeringly powerful and one of the finest novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I've since read all of Mistry's works, but A Fine Balance is unsurpassed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling as a roadside pileup, May 16 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: A Fine Balance (Paperback)
This was one of those rare novels that I just couldn't put down until I finished it. I'm a voracious reader, and it takes an exceptional book to cross my threshold of "put it aside and start something else". Mistry presents a deep analysis of India that is the more horrible for being so real. A tragic story, with things ending badly for each character, his writing totally made me care deeply about the fate of each one. BE WARNED, it's not a story for weak stomachs, lots of parts are grisly and all of it is heartbreaking: political corruption, caste violence, gender bias, and economic oppression, far beyond anything I have ever heard of in the US. Mistry is as powerful a writer as Stowe or Dickens or Riis.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of life, Dec 26 2013
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This review is from: A Fine Balance (Kindle Edition)
The characters are extremely well-drawn; they follow you around well after you've put the book down. This was also a very revealing read for me, detailing life and politics in mid- to late 20th century India. Touching and tragic - I would recommend this book to anyone with an open mind and a kind heart. It will most certainly disappoint you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Took me away on a real journey, April 19 2013
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This review is from: A Fine Balance (Paperback)
Wonderful read, I really felt transported into another time and place, the characters are wonderful, and I most enjoyed the book from start to finish
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