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Extended Audio Sample A Fine Balance Audiobook, by Rohinton Mistry Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.00003887269193 out of 54.00003887269193 out of 54.00003887269193 out of 54.00003887269193 out of 54.00003887269193 out of 5 4.00 (51,450 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Rohinton Mistry Narrator: Madhur Jaffrey Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2002 ISBN: 9780553756159
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With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India. The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers—a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village—will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future. 

As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.

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Quotes & Awards

  • "Those who continue to harp on the decline of the novel . . . ought to consider Rohinton Mistry. He needs no infusion of magic realism to vivify the real. The real world, through his eyes, is magical. The New York Times
  • “Astonishing…A rich and varied spectacle, full of wisdom and laughter and the touches of the unexpectedly familiar through which literature illuminates life.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • Astonishing. . . . A rich and varied spectacle, full of wisdom and laughter and the touches of the unexpectedly familiar through which literature illuminates life. Wall Street Journal
  • "Monumental. . . . Few have caught the real sorrow and inexplicable strength of India, the unaccountable crookedness and sweetness, as well as Mistry. Pico Iyer, Time
  • “A serious and important work…The product of high intelligence and passionate conviction.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “Monumental…Few have caught the real sorrow and inexplicable strength of India, the unaccountable crookedness and sweetness, as well as Mistry.”

    Time

  • “Those who continue to harp on the decline of the novel…ought to consider Rohinton Mistry. He needs no infusion of magic realism to vivify the real. The real world, through his eyes, is magical.”

    New York Times

  • Winner of the 1996 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction
  • An Oprah’s Book Club Selection in 2001
  • Winner of the 1996 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book
  • A 1997 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Finalist
  • Winner of the 1995 Scotiabank Giller Prize
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • An ALA Notable Book Finalist for Fiction
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A Man Booker Prize Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Danae | 11/12/2016

    " A Fine Balance is just that. Better read through audio book than with the eyes. The narration was fantastic. Expressive and adding character and depth. A story set in India crossing generations. Humorous and devastating. You will laugh, cry and love. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rose | 2/19/2014

    " I listened to this book in the car. I liked it, but found it overly long & detailed in some places. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sally | 2/13/2014

    " Amazing. Best book I have read in a long time. Couldn't put it down! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 2/12/2014

    " Regardless of being a terribly hard read for the emotion it evokes, this is one of the best books I have read in some time. From the descriptions of life in India to the character development and the emotion the turns of their lives gives the reader, this is some of the finest writing and story telling. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Simone | 2/6/2014

    " One of my very favorite reads. Amazing character development and incredible story lines throughout. Emotional and thought provoking. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Donna | 2/4/2014

    " A heart wrenching tale of life, the choices set out for you and trying against all odds to make it better. I loved this sad and gripping tale. Beautifully written. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tim L | 1/28/2014

    " Depressing book and there wasn't really a story. More of a snapshot in an awful time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nan | 1/22/2014

    " Loved this book as did others with whom I shared it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Helen Sedwick | 1/15/2014

    " One of the best books I have ever read. Taught me more about another culture, and the assumptions by which people live their lives, than any other book I can remember. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lyn O'kelly | 1/15/2014

    " Excellent book-- an Indian Les Miserables, but better. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Yvette Westervelt | 1/15/2014

    " One of the best books I have ever read in my life! Brilliant beyond words an amazing primer for anyone wanting to begin to understand the the complexity of India's political Labyrinth. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen Zimmer | 1/12/2014

    " Wow! Never heard of this author before but now I am hooked. A Fine Balance was a book I couldn't put down. I am looking forward to reading more of his books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joanne | 1/2/2014

    " This book absolutely devastated me but the writing and the story are amazing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dave Hutcheson | 10/26/2013

    " Changed my view and understanding of the world. Well written and an immersive story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nora | 10/25/2013

    " Brilliant, excellently written, captivating and enlightening for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jerryl Ann | 9/28/2013

    " This book came highly recommended. Excellent read. It's been a while since I read it; but it stays in my mind of how well written it was. Read his others. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Phemie London | 2/24/2013

    " One of my all time favourite books about life in a crowded tenement building in India and how people survive. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Violetta | 1/24/2013

    " "A Fine Balance" is Dickens meets City of Joy. Very well written, and crowded with pathos and misery. No real conclusion to the characters' stories is made, as what possible conclusion is there to the story of a life, but death? It's everything that happens in between that is worth thinking about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara Wade Rose | 1/10/2013

    " I thought this would be harder to read than it was. Which means much of it is searing and sad, but I'm very glad I read it. One marvels at India's enormous capacity to sanctify and swallow its own people. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stacy | 11/22/2012

    " I cannot overstate this: this is not a light read. Brace yourself. But it's worth it, I think. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather Hunt | 9/11/2012

    " The best book ever written. Absolutely brilliant. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily Jane | 7/17/2012

    " I have read this book three times over, its characters live with me. It stokes the fire to travel to India. One of my favourite all time reads. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ckw538 | 4/15/2012

    " An interesting story that follows the lives of different characters and how each are intertwined together. Overall a great story but be prepared to have a never-ending emotional low with reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Arielle | 4/13/2012

    " Great book! wonderful characters and a detailed look into another country's way of life "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Layla | 11/13/2011

    " God, this book and its misery drove me mad. But the lovely specks of light kept me going and I think I really loved it. Books about India are my weakness. I almost always love them. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debby | 10/8/2011

    " Excellent story telling; emotional drama. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Samia | 9/7/2011

    " A favorite. Warning: it is sad and will stay with you forever. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jerry Peace | 6/26/2011

    " Best line- "For the rest of the afternoon the squabble kept dribbling under his door, creating a pool of distress around him." Favorite lines- "' Let her pay us properly, then we can buy our own balm.' 'It's not the buying, Omprakash- it's the applying I want you to remember.'" "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 5/23/2011

    " An engaging but depressing look at recent Indian society. I've been in the third world in a number of different countries and for all the fascination with the different-ness of it I'm ultimately grateful
    to live in the USA. Despite all our own problems. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kushal | 5/23/2011

    " This is the most depressing book I have ever read in my life. It's 2 AM here and I don't think I am going to get sound sleep for many coming days. Fuck, I don't even want to talk about this. Later... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heidi | 5/17/2011

    " One of the best books I have ever read. I still think about the characters like there were real. Fantastic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Allison | 5/14/2011

    " This book is well written and engrossing but also relentlessly depressing. Life in India is really awful for poor people and they never, ever catch a break. That pretty much sums up this book up. Things are bad and they just get worse and I guess I just don't want to read about it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 5/14/2011

    " I loved this book, very well written and drew me in completely. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer | 5/12/2011

    " This was such a good book. Very hard to read some of the depressing circumstances but I couldn't put it down. Extreme poverty in India. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Beth | 5/10/2011

    " One of my top 10 all time favorites. An amazing tale of the resilience of the human spirit. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 5/10/2011

    " One of my very favorite books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather | 5/9/2011

    " In a minority of people who didn't like this. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marty | 5/7/2011

    " This is a well-told story about various people in India from different castes who help each other. The characters are described so well that the reader feels she knows them. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judith | 5/6/2011

    " I love historical fiction. This book gives a terrifying look into India and what people must do to survive. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rene | 5/6/2011

    " what a devastaiting story!... I have never cried so much after reading a book. beautifuly constructed background and characters. magnificent epic book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 5/3/2011

    " Beautifully descriptive images of modern India, with touching characterizations. An amazing story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shannon | 5/3/2011

    " Third on my list of books that take place in India or are about India, and I'm just devouring them. This book is incredible. Mistry makes you fall in love with the characters! "

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About the Author
Author Rohinton MistryRohinton Mistry was born in Bombay and now lives near Toronto. His first novel, Such a Long Journey, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and received, among other awards, the Governor General's Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book of the Year. A Fine Balance is his second novel, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Fiction, the Giller Prize, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize as well as a Booker Prize finalist. Mistry is also the author of Swimming Lessons, a collection of short stories.