A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is a historical fiction set in India during 1975, a time in which “The Emergency” was declared. During “The Emergency” basic human rights have been suspended due to India being in a state of emergency. A Fine Balance follows Dina Dalal, a widow who rents her deceased husband’s home, Maneck Kohlah, a student from a far away mountain village studying at a nearby college, he rents a room in Dina’s home, Ishvar Darji, a tailor who works for Dina, and Omprakash Darji, Ishvars nephew who also works for Dina. These four people from very different backgrounds are forced to live together and navigate life in “The Emergency” and as time passes they become like family to each other, growing to care for one another.
I enjoyed A Fine Balance and really liked seeing how the four main characters’ friendships developed as the story progressed. However, The book is quite long and at times can feel like it drags on, particularly in the first half because the first half of the book is spent explaining the backstories of the four main characters. The second half of the book definitely picks up in pace and is much more engaging and interesting. The writing style was also very enjoyable, I particularly enjoyed how the setting and environment were described as these descriptions were very detailed and used great imagery. Additionally, the novel provides a very interesting insight into a time in history that many people are unaware of and made me want to read more about India during this time. In the end, I thought A Fine Balance was a good story and I would recommend it to those interested in historical fiction.