At book's end, I returned to ponder the title, "A Fine Balance," because my sense of imbalance -- of despair over hope, of sustained moral injury beyond reach of remedy -- was keen. Perhaps this residual imbalance is due in part to a conflict between Mr. Mistry's political and literary aims. Certainly the indictment of Mrs. Gandhi's regime served up in these pages could not be more trenchantly clear. There seemed also to be an imbalance in the construction of the novel itself, a disproportion of background to foreground.
Mistry intensely loves the marginal, and his street people -- proofreaders, renting agents, peddlers of potency nostrums, beggars and beggarmasters -- are often so vibrantly ensouled, so diverting, that they threaten to upstage everyone else. A woman drying her laundered sari, her only garment, one half at a time, for example, is captured in a brief imperishable glimpse: "One end was wound wet round her waist and over her shrunken breasts, as far as it would go.
The drying half was stretched along the railway fence, flowing from her body like a prayer in the evening sun.
And here is a legless beggar, extolling the creativity of his beggarmaster -- the man who stage-manages a theater of misfortune, casting the players, scripting them, designing costumes and wounds:. Public likes to see variety.
An Analysis of the Narrative Style of A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Blind beggars are everywhere. But blind, with eyeballs missing, face showing empty sockets, plus nose chopped off -- now anyone will give money for that. Diseases are also useful. A big growth on the neck or face, oozing yellow pus. That works well. Even animals, performing animals with walk-on parts, are capable of stealing the show.
A "communicating cow" is mentioned in passing:. Though the fellow's shirt and turban were bright-hued, he seemed quite drab compared to the richly bedizened cow.
The two walked the circle: once, twice, thrice -- however long it took him to recite the cow's curriculum vitae, with special emphasis on prophecies and forecasts accurately completed to date. His voice was deafeningly raucous, his eyes bloodshot, his gestures manic, and all this frenzy was calculated as a masterly counterpoint to the cow's calm demeanor. When the drum ceased, the man shouted the paying customer's question into the cow's ear, loud enough for the entire ring of humans to hear.
And she answered with a nod or shake of her intricately made-up head, tinkling the tiny silver bells round her neck.
American readers hearing the name of yet another important English-language novelist from Bombay probably want to know how he compares with Salman Rushdie, so I'll give it a try: Less hyper, to start with the obvious, less given to flashy virtuoso display, more open to genuine wonder and sorrow at the ways people manage to endure. When both authors are at their very best, Mr. Mistry brings to mind Bruegel, Mr. Rushdie Hieronymus Bosch. As you can see from the communicating cow passage quoted above, Rohinton Mistry needs no infusions of magical realism to vivify the real. The real world, through his eyes, is quite magical enough.
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A Fine Balance Essay Sample
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