A Fine Balance Paperback – 19 Oct 2006
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In 1975, in an unidentified Indian city, Mrs Dina Dalal, a financially pressed Parsi widow in her early 40s sets up a sweatshop of sorts in her ramshackle apartment. Determined to remain financially independent and to avoid a second marriage, she takes in a boarder and two Hindu tailors to sew dresses for an export company. As the four share their stories, then meals, then living space, human kinship prevails and the four become a kind of family, despite the lines of caste, class and religion. When tragedy strikes, their cherished, newfound stability is threatened, and each character must face a difficult choice in trying to salvage their relationships. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"'One of India's finest living novelists.' Observer" --ObserverSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Not only does it accurately portray the political and social situation in India in the 1970s,it reflects the predudices within the upper castes and the fatalistic attitude of the lower castes, formed from their religious beliefs that suffering is their destiny and the reward will be in the afterlife.
This story is overwhelmingly sad and also shocking as the reader can identify the ethical question of human suffering for a possibly laudable goal (in this case it is population control). However, the novel is also uplifting in a peculiar way; that individuals who struggle so hard to exist in appalling conditions can find joy in their lives is humbling. It also allows the reader to identify with the predudices and to see a situation from another side. Maybe at the end of the book, the reader feels that they have grown a little in spirit and have the capacity to be a 'better' person as a result.
For me, the mark of a great book is one that remains with you long after the back page is read. This is such a book.
'A Fine Balance' begins with the unlikely union of four people from different ends of the class spectrum, and spends the first half of the book looking back into their lives.Read more ›
I have always been fascinated by India and the vast extremes in fortune that co-exist there. I've visited the country and known a lot of Indians and one thing that has always struck me is that they seem to have no concept of self-pity or even sympathy for others. There seems to be an acceptance in the Indian culture that life is unfair. Sitting around thinking "woe is me" gets you nowhere. However the reverse side of that is that people don't really expect their circumstances in life to change dramatically. The American dream, that "anyone can be President" idea, doesn't exist in India. The class that you're born in will be the class you die in. Accept that, and move on.
Against this background, we have Ishvar and Omprakavash, who are born in a lowly caste. They are trying to improve their lot in life through hard work and taking calculated chances, but again and again life knocks them back. Dina, too, is a plucky heroine full of ingenuity. She is also trying to make the best of her circumstances.
If this was an American novel it might have had a neat and happy ending. Instead life deals these people some unspeakably terrible cards. There are parts of this book that are almost unbearable to read. Horrible, horrible things happen to Ishvar and his family. But how do they people react? They keep going. The connections they have with the people around them sustain them and get them through, and then life gets better (and the book gets easier), for a while. In the end it is Maneck, who on paper has the easiest circumstances, who has the least resilience to life's ups and downs.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The description of this novel isn't very encouraging but I would recommend everyone to read this book. It is beautifully written and takes you to a very different world. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Jane Howard
The language is pleasing and the main characters are charming. However, its very one dimensional, including the baddies and the perspectives being presented. Read morePublished 10 days ago by SelvinaE
I have the same problem with this book as I have with Dickens - and many other "lesser" novels. The feeling that the author is manipulating his characters. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Monica
This novel explores the evils of caste based prejudice and violence in India and is powerful, moving and shocking. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Petros
Fantastic book. A powerful book that leaves a lasting impression on you.Published 1 month ago by Linda Blackstone