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A Fine Balance

a fine balance

It’s been a while since both Book Worm and I have given the same book 5 stars. We are both fairly stingy with our 5-star ratings. So when a book comes along that gets 5 stars from both of us, we get very excited to share it with you. See why we thought it was so good and let us know if you loved it too!

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
First Published: 1995
Rating: A mutual 5 stars!
Reviewed by: Book Worm and Jen
Find it/buy it here: A Fine Balance

Synopsis (from Good Reads): 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.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: 5 Stars. I was immediately drawn into the stories of the 4 central characters and loved the moves back and forwards in time as we learned what had bought them all to the same place. At points in the story I found myself wanting to shout at one or other of the central characters to tell them to be careful, or to be more understanding.

This is a novel of highs and lows. The highs come from finding and maintaining friendships while the lows come from the government “Emergency” and the laws and restrictions they put on the ordinary people. The novel does contain scenes of torture and these are distressing but not overplayed, no-one’s life is safe the poor least of all and this leaves an air of oppression over the whole novel. As a reader I was waiting for the next disaster to strike, while hoping that this time at least things would turn out for the best.

Jen’s Thoughts: 5 stars and a heart. This was one of my favorite books that I read in 2015. It won the Man Booker Prize in 1996. I generally love Indian literature and this was no exception. I found it to be extremely well-written and beautifully emotional. The notion of balance was central to the novel and I loved the ways in which events played out to perfectly reflect the idea that many things in life are a fine balance.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? Have you read any others by Mistry? Which books would you recommend?

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. sylviemarieheroux #

    Totally agree: this is a great book!

    It also qualifies as Canadian literature… Mistry has been living in Ontario since 1975.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 15, 2016
    • That is an interesting point. I know he is Canadian but he was born and raised in India only moving to Canada as an adult with his wife. This book in particular feels very tied to India and his Indian roots. It feels strange for me to think of it also as Canadian literature even though I know he identifies as an Indian born Canadian.


      March 15, 2016
  2. Michelle #

    I haven’t read this book but most definitely will now…..thank you both~

    Liked by 1 person

    March 15, 2016
  3. Tessa (Book Concierge) #

    Wonderful book … great reviews! I read it back in 2004 for my F2F book club. This was before I had joined Shelfari or Goodreads, so my “review” is sparse.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 15, 2016
  4. I have such a big (for me!) TBR pile now, but I just had to add this. It must be special!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 15, 2016
  5. Tracy S #

    This was a great book, and so is Family Matters, also by Mistry. He is a terrific writer who knows how to create realistic characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 15, 2016
  6. I loved this book, but it was so sad. When I was reading it I felt so conflicted between wanting to keep reading it, and not wanting to ever open it again because it made me so sad. It’s a wonderful, excellent novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 16, 2016
  7. Diane Zwang #

    I was sad when I couldn’t get to this one with our 1001 group. I hope to get to it someday. I know I will like it as I have enjoyed all the Indian literature I have read lately.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 14, 2016
  8. This is the review I was looking for!! Thank you so much for telling me about this book. I have finally found the time to read it and it was fantastic, one of the best and most memorable I have ever read.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 25, 2016
  9. Definitely 5 star worthy! I adored this book!
    Read my review here (if you like) –


    August 12, 2016

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