I recently finished the arduous process of reading the extensive novel A Fine Balnce by Rohinton Mistry. A 603 pager with small font and tiny margins, this book that more resembles a brick took me just over a month to get through. And only now that I'm done with it can I say it was well worth it!
Mistry writes a tale woe (and when I say woe I mean, "wow") taking place in an unnamed city in India during 1975. The book follows the happensatance meeting of four people who develop an invaluable relatinoships, and end up living together for one year. Tracking the background of each person's family of origin, the reader understands well the struggles and idiosyncrecies of each character as they learn to deal with each other and cope with life.
Much like the 2008 film of the year Slumdog Millionaire, this book seems to tell these stories as a means to depict the situation in India. However, unlike Slumdog there is no sugar coating of a million bucks or a happy ending love story. A Fine Balance tells it like it was: horrible, heart-breaking, infuriating, shocking, and just plain sad.
Mistry has no need to strain his creative mind nor make florid his prose to produce his story. Rather, simply telling the stories of the characters will draw you in as your inner you, the part that connects you to all other people, is touched and the rope of your heart's compassion is tugged on.
Though officially the genre of the book is fiction, a note in the beginning makes very clear that though the city is unnamed, and the places visited are non-specific, the stories are all true. This book will expand your compassion for people different from you. One cannot read these tales and walk away unchanged.
A Fine Balance is a recommended read. If you have the time to put into it, this book will put in to you.