Hands up, anyone who has ever read a book by this man!
What did you think?
Were you blown away or was it just ‘blah’ ?
I’ve just recently finished ‘A fine balance,’ which is a novel set in 1984, in Mumbai.
Now, I stay away from writing book reviews, and this isn’t really a book review, but I will talk about the book, the author and tell you how wonderful they both are!
The man is a genius and knows how to tell a story! He crafts his characters meticulously from the fertile depths of his observations and imagination. He weaves their lives together like Dina Aunty’s quilt and uses imagery and symbolism to further make his novel into something extraordinary.
I came across Mistry, one Sunday morning, whilst having a coffee with a friend in Costa’s, above Waterstones (A bookstore) I can’t remember which book it was, but I remember being intrigued by his name. I was amused at the Indian-Englishness of it; after all, Rohinton sounds a lot like, Rohit, Rohin and Remington, all rolled into one. Anyway, I didn’t have enough money to spare for the book so I left it, thinking I’d look him up when I was back in India, where books are considerably cheaper!
A few days before my flight, I came across him again, in an Oxfam Bookshop. There were 3 copies of the same book, ‘A fine balance’ and I knew I had to pick one up; price was not the issue this time.
And he did it, he had me hooked and reeled me in with his very first line, “The morning express bloated with passengers slowed to a crawl, then lurched forward, as though to resume full speed. The train’s brief deception jolted its riders…”
The book has the quality of grimness paired with light…It’s funny, hopeful but oh, so tragic! I’m not sure how that’s even possible! The man’s a genius!
I have learnt so much from reading this 613 page book, which I devoured quickly and without chewing, that I feel that Mistry must be called my unofficial mentor, from now on. Lahiri and I on a par, I’d say. (I’m not being facetious!) But Rohinton Mistry is on another level entirely! There is so much depth in every single page, with the actual harrowing happenings of the time painted clearly in neat meaningful brush strokes; so much raw emotion without the need for frivolous sentimentality that I just feel humbled to have discovered a great, from whom I could learn so much. This is an important novel in so many sad ways that I feel an injustice has been done to the man who has been nominated for the ‘Booker’ 3 times. Why haven’t I seen or heard of him before?!
I suppose being a writer can also mean being invisible. But for me, right now, he is a shining beacon of brilliance. I bow to you, Rohinton Mistry…You are my guru, my guide through this journey of mine. And unlike Bal Baba, I know you can show me the way!