Friday, October 05, 2007

A fine balance: short review

I bought this book as lots of recommendations poured in, and finally yesterday I end up reading it, I has been a really depressing novel, I didn’t read such novel for quite sometime. Rohinton Mistry, as many says is an outstanding author and truly speaking “ A fine balance” has been written with similar craftsmanship, it was an extremely great one to read.
The novel is written with the emergency period at the backdrop (1975), so during the whole book, Rohinton did a great job in keeping the tension alive. There are many characters in this novel but the majority part is based on couple of Parsi families, although Rohinton didn’t get deep inside the Parsi culture but still he mentions a lot about them. There are many small stories which were finally streamlined to form the main one, but manly the novel was built around a woman called Mrs. Dina Dalal, very strong character by itself, will draw your attention all the time. Rohinton nicely described the misery, exploitation during the time of emergency, without being explicit. Social oppression on the “lower” caste has been depicted extremely vividly in the novel. Before I get distracted, let me sum
marize the story, Dina Schroff is a Parsi lady who after a painful stay with her brother gets a short lived freedom when she married a Parsi guy called Rustom Dalal, but Rustom passed away in an accident, Dina went alone to survive on her own, and during her professional search for tailors she came across couple of tailors: Ishvar and Omprakash, who were cobbler by their family profession and turned int tailors, had gone trough immense torture in the hands of Jamindars in the village and their misfortune pushed them to the City. Dina gets a paying guest who is a son of his friend, Maneck Kolah, from hills and again had a different set of fa├žade. The best part of the novel is the time when these 4 characters stays together and presents different philosophies towards life. Rohinton, although didn't mention much about the city, but it will surely remind you about Bombay, instead of Delhi. Altogether a gripping novel, with lots of painful truth inscribed.

The novel has a theme, and it was mentioned at least couple of times, “everything ends badly..”. Its an extremely depressing line which made this novel unbearable. None of the characters, who struggled all thorough the novel was spared. The identity of the characters were never lost, though the suffering remained, except the crooks everyone in the end was at a loss. It was on the struggle people did to survive, but the end was pretty dramatic and saddening. Another point that struck me was the backdrop of emergency was not removed even after the ordeal was over, Rohinton mentioned about the same hopeless situation which prevailed. Altogether the book is extremely good to read only if you can bear the depression.
There is a movie also coming on this book, I hope the movie will be good, but I don’t dare to watch it

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Anonymous said...

I read A Fine Balance a couple of years ago, shortly after my first and only visit to Mumbai (and to India). If I had any romantic notions about the city before, they were gone by the time I finished this sad book. But there is a slight bit of hope at the very end, when the two tailors are joking around. With all the sadness, this book is too good to ignore. i recommend it to everyone.

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