A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance

by Rohinton Mistry
General Fiction
Vintage, 2001
Paperback - 624 pages
$17.00

This powerful novel was written in 1995 and set in a Mumbai-like city in 1975 at the time that Indira Gandhi had declared a state of emergency and suspended basic civil rights. Her goal was to distract attention from a growing political scandal. The human toll was immense. The “fine balance” compels us to find the line between selflessness and self-preservation in the face of unrelenting attack and cruelty. The story plays out in the lives of four disparate characters sharing a ramshackle flat in an urban slum. Although misery haunts every step, there are nonetheless counterbalancing moments of redeeming joy, laughter, love and dignity. The book’s 624 pages are packed with absolutely captivating writing which evokes precisely the sensual culture of post-Partition and pre-hi-tech India and the people who swirled around in its chaos. A Fine Balance took the Giller Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1996. You will find it hard to put this one down!