“Monumental…Few have caught the real sorrow and inexplicable strength of India, the unaccountable crookedness and sweetness as well as Mistry.” – Pico Iyer, Time Magazine
Absolutely stunning and one of my favorite all-time, award-winning novels is Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance. Set in 1975 in India in an undisclosed city by the sea, this is a story about four strangers unexpectedly forced to share a very crammed apartment in times of political turmoil twenty five years after India’s outlawing of its caste system (a Hindu religious and social institution where people are grouped in different social hierarchies). Coming from different castes or “jadis”- Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras, and Pariahs (the untouchables or the “outcastes”) – and forced to live together, they inevitably learn to trust each other despite their beliefs and customs. Their life stories unfold as the reader discovers the painful truth about Indian culture and religion. (One wonders if the origins of the English word “outcast” has anything to do with India’s Pariahs.)
I highly recommend Rohinton Mistry’s, A Fine Balance, as a beautiful and engaging read, especially if you are curious about India’s history, culture, religion, politics and the discrimination that still continues (but has diminished since 1950) even today. The author produces a fantastically-written work of fiction that depicts the engrained (and sometimes unchangeable) beliefs of its people. Written in brilliant, illuminative prose, this thick book’s realism is, in my humble opinion, nothing less than masterful. I learned a great deal about India by submersing myself in this book.
A bit about the author, Rohinton Mistry:
Rohinton Mistry is an Indian-born Canadian who writes in English. Born in Bombay, he is also the author of several novels including Such a Long Journey, Family Matters, The Scream, and Tales from Firozsha Baaga among others. Mistry is the recipient of many prestigious awards for his books and writing including the Scotiabank Giller prize for A Fine Balance, the Neustadt International prize for Literature, Governor General’s Award for English-language fiction, the Los Angeles Times book prize for fiction, and while studying at the University of Toronto, he won two Hart House literary prizes. He practices Zoroastrianism and belongs to the Parsi community.
To purchase a copy of this magnificent novel, please visit Amazon.
To learn more about Rohinton Mistry, visit Wikipedia.
Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.