Book Review: A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry

This truly is a magnificent book. Set in India in 1975 and then later in 1984 during The Emergency, it's about 4 characters of differing backgrounds that come together and eventually form a bond. Two of the characters, who are uncle and nephew, were trained to become tailors in order to escape the restrictive caste system, and eventually move to Bombay in search of work which is no longer available in their nearest town.

The two tailors become lodgers in a flat to Dina Dalal, who hires them for piecework. Dina has also taken in another lodger, a student by the name of Maneck. Dina herself is from a wealthy background and following her fathers death when she was twelve, her mother was unable to look after her and so this responsibility became that of her elder brother, whom she rebelled against. And Maneck is from a mountain town where he lived with his parents who owned a grocery store. He was sent to a boarding school to better his education, against his wishes and eventually ends up at college in the city and boarding with Dina and the two tailors.

Throughout this time of disturbance in India, Mistry tells his story through the eyes of his characters and how each are affected by the social and political unrest as they try to get on with their day to day lives. The tragedies within this book were astounding and at times hard to read but the author somehow keeps you with him and adds a lighter touch without taking away the reality of what many people in India must have went through at this time. It takes you out of your comfort zone but is not depressing, it opens your eyes to the things that have gone on in the world. Despite these tragedies the characters remain upbeat and still get enjoyment out of their life, especially the little things in life.

It is a very well written book that was impossible to put down. By far one of the best books I have ever read. I intend reading more from this author. He is a fantastic story teller.