by Rohinton Mistry
If you can only read one book for the rest of your life, it should be this one. Seriously. A Fine Balance is enthralling, spectacular and one of the most well-written, finely crafted books I’ve ever read. Set in India (mostly in Mumbai), the story encompasses multiple characters and story lines that intertwine in unlikely and surprising ways. Dina Dalal is a widowed tailor who is struggling to keep her head above water with a tailoring business; Omprakash and Ishvar Darji are untouchables from a small village, working in the big city; and Manesh is a college student who misses his home in Northern India.
Mistry’s writing is vivid and ethereal: when he describes the slums, you can almost feel the muggy heat bearing down. When he writes of untouchable tanners, you can feel the cow hide on your fingers. The books deals with extreme poverty in India, caste and class, love, hate and politics. A Fine Balance, shortlisted three times for the Booker Prize, is a spectacular read and story that will be branded in your mind forever. This should be required reading for all and is especially great preparation for a trip to India.
Read before a trip to: India, South Asia