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24 juni, 2016

A fine balance *****

Posted in : Reviews in english on by : Lotte Tags: , , ,

rohinton-mistry

“Flirting with madness was one thing; when madness started flirting back, it was time to call the whole thing off.”

I very rarely give a book 5 stars, but this book is one that will stay with me for a very long time.

With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India.

The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers–a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village–will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.

As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state. (Goodreads).

A few years back, I visited India with a friend, and fell in love with this complex country, a land of huge population, rich history and culture and significant differences between the rich and the poor. When my neighbour suggested I read this book full of the history of India, I was intrigued at once.

This is not a feel good book! This is a grim, heartbreaking tale of India i 1975, where Rohinton Mistry with his amazing character building makes you fall in love with the four main characters, constantly praying for their success. They constantly have to fight for everything, since their opportunities are limited by the caste system, government corruption and greed.

Following the four lives, their sorrows and joys and getting involved in a period of no hope really put your everyday life and small problems into perspective. Rohinton builds a world where you can not help identifying with the characters in one way or another, especially with his use of flashbacks to the characters pasts. He paints a real picture of rual India during the 1960s and 70s with discrimination, forced sterilization and “beautification” (slum destruction). At the same time, the novels shows us that sometimes the most generous actions can often come from those with the least power and resources.

The writing is truly beautiful and moving, and this is one of those life-changing reads that you really should not miss.

There really is A fine line between hope and despair.

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