So I’ve definitely gone down some sort of Indian-literature rabbit hole, and I’m loving it. After another very insistent recommendation of ‘A Fine Balance’ by Rohiton Mistry, I chased after a copy in the Library – but since finishing it, I know that I desperately want my own copy. As such is my life; I never seem to own books I need to own, paying money instead for books that I probably won’t reread or zealously lend out. And so it goes.
What is there to say about this devastating but hopeful book? Full of twists and turns and stomach churns aboard some sort of ongoing train towards the light. A blistering, poignant reminder of how terrifyingly awful people can be to each other, how some lives may never be ‘happy’ (whatever that means), but with glimmers of hope scattered throughout in nuggets of humour and comfort. Lush, vivid imagery blooms throughout the book – sometimes undercut, but never overwhelmed by the bleakness of the lives some of the people face.
It is a book about India and its caste system, mostly during the reign of Indria Ghandi and full of messages and lessons but never ever comes across as self-aware. Everything political, everything historical is hidden within the background and completely subtle. You just get lost in the lives of the two tailors, their #ladyboss employer and an awkward college student, their respective family histories and pockets of India’s own history are slowly revealed as you peel back each layer with a turn of the page.
A brilliant book – hands down one of my favourites for this half of the year.