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Rohinton Mistry - A Fine Balance



Rohinton Mistry is known among the foremost writers of Indian Heritage writings in English. He is of Indian origin as he belongs to Gujarat but at present residing at Canada.

He has produced good writings on various topics and his latest work is “Fine Balance”.

The plot of this book has been set up in Mumbai, India during the period of 1975 to 1977. This was the time of Emergency which experienced crack down in civil liberties and expanded government.

Mistry has tried to expose all the changes that Indian society faced during the time of Emergency which was called by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.

You will generally find Mistry to be critical of Gandhi in the entire book. And a very interesting point you will note in the book is that the writer has not referred Indira Gandhi by any name even once and has simply mentioned as “the prime minister”.

The main story of the book revolves around the four characters Dina Dalal, Ishwar Darji and his nephew Omrkash and Maneck who is a young lad. All these characters belongs to different backgrounds and come in contact with each other due to economic forces changing India and are trying to make a bond between them.

The family of Ishwar and Omprakash belongs to the Chamaar castes that are treated as untouchables. In order to break the caste system the father of Ishwar gives training of tailoring to their sons and they become tailors. The skill also gets passed to the son of Ishwar’s brother and they all move to Mumbai in search of work.

Dina is a character who belongs to a wealthy and traditional family but stays in the flat of her dead husband so as to maintain tenuous independence from her brother.

And Maneck belongs to a small mountain village of India who moves to a city in order to get a college diploma for having a second option in case if his fathers business do not do well. All these characters of the book are interestingly brought together. As Ishwar and Omprakash are going to Dina’s flat through a train, they meet Maneck on their way and they together head towards the flat of Dina where Ishwar and Om gets hired by her she allows Maneck to stay in her flat as well.

From here the lives of all these characters take shocking and dramatic turns. Through these twist and turns of life, Mistry has very well tried to portrait the lives of these characters and also of India along with its wide variety. These unforgettable characters are used to show the wide social panorama which is just amazing. This magical work by Mistry shows the real world not through his imagination but through his eyes.

A Fine Balance was first published in 1995 and it won the Giller Prize as well.

Until 2001 it was among the only two Canadian books which have been given the privilege of being selected in the Oprah’s Book Club. It was also given a nomination for Booker Prize in the year 1996. The list of its accomplishment is never ending and you have to first go through it to actually feel its success.

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