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A Fine Balance



A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is a poignant exploration of the lives of four diverse characters set against the backdrop of India during the 1970s, a time marked by political turmoil and emergency. The novel intricately weaves the stories of a widow, two tailors, and a young student, who come together by fate and navigate the challenges posed by the socio-political climate, personal ambition, and the struggle for survival.

Plot and Themes

The narrative unfolds in a "City by the Sea" and stretches to "A Village by a River," encapsulating the vast socio-economic and cultural landscapes of India. Through the journey from "For Dreams to Grow" to "The Bright Future," Mistry delves into themes of hope amidst despair, the endurance of friendship, and the fine balance between life's joys and sorrows.

  • Human Resilience: The characters demonstrate remarkable resilience in the face of life-altering adversities, symbolized by their survival and adaptation from "Small Obstacles" to "Mountains."
  • Social Injustice: Mistry critiques the social and political injustices that pervade the lives of the marginalized, highlighted in chapters like "Day at the Circus, Night in the Slum" and "Beautification."
  • Friendship: The unlikely bond formed among the protagonists offers a semblance of hope and solace, underscoring the novel's focus on human relationships as a source of strength.
  • Political Upheaval: Set during India's Emergency period, the story reflects on the impact of political decisions on the everyday lives of citizens, with chapters like "What Law There Is" and "Sailing Under One Flag" delving into these dynamics.


The central characters, each with their distinct backgrounds and aspirations, find their lives intertwined, leading to a complex tapestry of human connections that challenge and redefine their understanding of family, love, and loyalty.


A Fine Balance is a testament to the enduring spirit of humanity, offering a meticulous portrayal of the struggle for dignity against the backdrop of historical and political turbulence. Mistry's narrative is a compelling reminder of the strength found in friendships and the precarious nature of happiness and suffering.