A Fine Balance by R. Mistry

AmbrosiaAmbrosia Registered Users Posts: 60
anyone read it?

just finished it

id like to comment on it, esp. if there is a curly who has also read it.



  • SystemSystem Posts: 39,060 Administrator
    We seem to be reading the same books . . . hope you don't mind more comments from me.

    This book stirred up so many emotions in me -- can I say I enjoyed a book that ultimately left me feeling hopeless? It sounds so shallow to say, "Too many bad things happened."

    It was well-written, Mintry developed the characters well, and I found myself drawn into the story and land in a very deep way. I was ignorant of many of the historical bits (esp. the whole saga of the "Emergency") so was interested to learn more.

    It's been a while since I read this one, so some of the details are lost, but I remember being mesmerized as the story unfolds . . The details I do remember (the daily life in the apartment, for example) were so evocative. I felt it gave me a small taste of the social nuances, small inconveniences, the characters lived with.
  • fig jamfig jam Registered Users Posts: 2,555
    Oooh, that was weird. Wonder why the post above was as "guest"? It was me!
    "Tell me, are you incapable of restraining yourself, or do you take pride in being an insufferable know-it-all?"

    "Honey Badger don't care!"
  • AmbrosiaAmbrosia Registered Users Posts: 60
    seems that we are, fig jam:-)

    i thought "A Fine Balance" was a great book. not one that i will soon read again because of the perpetual horror that seems to plague each character and the extreme sadness i felt when reading the book, but great nonetheless.

    Mistry masterfully accomplishes the very difficult task of creating vast social and policital panoramas that frame each character and event. his description of the politics of the book are fantastic. mistry nails the incredibly difficult undertaking of describing, in such detail and without accusations, the State of Emergency and the culture that fuels the Emergency. he does a fantastic job of conveying the mass pandemonium in each character's life with subtly and elegance. as a reader, i was convinced of the confusion in 1975 india through the author's diction and tone. very well-written book.

    i found it impossible not to fall in love with the characters. and the plot was so complex but not confusing. reading the book didnt make my head spin even though mistry picked up and left off here and there. he brings the monumental novel together effortlessly.

    my only qualm with the book is with the last 100 pages or so. the horror never seems to stop for om and ishvar! while the rest of the events in the book seem plausible, the continual abomination that om and ishvar go through....god, i just wanted to yell "enough already!" they just cant catch a break and, for me, that took away from the realism of the book. additionally, the last few pages of the book are filled with too many coincidences. i think mistry does a fantastic job of avoiding wrapping the characters and stories in a pretty little bowed packages. however, parts of the last few pages took away from what mistry accomplished in the rest of the novel...particularly, maneck's coincidences on his walk into and about town and om and ishvars fate.

    i found it particularly interesting how low maneck and dina were at the end of the book as oppossed to the optimism of om and ishvar. although om and particularly ishvar, no doubt, have the most obviously miserable existence, they trot along merrily with hope and optimism that they exhibit throughout the novel. ...whereas maneck kills himself and dina loses her cherished independence. beautiful and moving conclusion.

    a light read is soon to follow. :)
  • fig jamfig jam Registered Users Posts: 2,555
    Hi, I missed this until I got your PM!

    I agree with much of your assessment. I felt emotionally exhausted by the last parts of the book. I am glad I read it, but I don't think I have the heart to ever read it again (unusual for me if I liked a book the first time). Indeed, he did transport me to a particular place and time (1975 India), but as he did so, his broader strokes painted the universal tragedies of humanity. Chaos, corruption, oppression, prejudice, materialism, class cruelty, filth, disease, death . . . all somehow subtly lightened by the beauty of the characters.

    You are right! One falls in love with his characters! I think that love carried me through the misery as well as the unrealistically unrelenting sorrows of the final chapters.
    "Tell me, are you incapable of restraining yourself, or do you take pride in being an insufferable know-it-all?"

    "Honey Badger don't care!"
  • papayahedpapayahed Registered Users Posts: 1,282
    I'm about halfway through with this book and it's taken me a while to get that far. I agree the characters are great and that's what keeps bringing me back but it is quite depressing.
  • starinastarina Registered Users Posts: 665 Curl Neophyte
    I read this book a couple of years ago and thought it was wonderful albeit quite sad. He certainly brought India to life in his writing. I was fascinated. Has anyone read anything else by him?
    I have 3A hair. I've discovered Jessicurl shampoo and Too Shea conditioner and I'm thrilled! Long-time LA Looks sport gel user.

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