Tuesday, February 19, 2008
A Fine Balance
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is simply one of the best books I've ever read. It is that rare book that consumes me, is in my thoughts when I'm away from it, that pushes me to learn more about its subject matter, that quite simply moves me.
A Fine Balance begins when four people come together at a small apartment in a large city in India by the sea in 1975, a time of tremendous upheaval in India. We get to know each character at length, their family, their background, what motivates them and what ultimates brings them to this apartment. As these four people come to know one another and appreciate each other and ultimately love one another we witness their journey. It is a journey of misery and sadness, fear and destruction, but also of hope and humanity and the very basic will to survive. Make no mistake - this is not a happy book. After thinking about the characters all day at work, I settled down to read the last 50 pages and I found myself hesitating, because as much as I was wanted to know what became of them all, I was afraid of what horrors they might have yet to face. It seemed they had suffered enough. Yet through it all, these people retained their sense of humor, positive outlook, and their hearts full of kindness. And for those who have read this book, the last two pages did me in. How can I feel so much for these characters who aren't even real, yet are, because they are a representation of a reality that is so difficult to fathom.
It's difficult to come away from a book such as this, since right now nothing else can live up to its standards, or could be as satisfying. I certainly plan to read more by this author in the future. I had already been planning on reading this book, but I thank all who suggested it to me when I was looking for books about India. You game me that little extra push I needed.