BOOKS: DOWN AND REALLY OUT

ROHINTON MISTRY'S A FINE BALANCE IS AN EPIC OF TRAGIC REALISM WORTHY OF HARDY AND BALZAC. IS THIS THE GREAT INDIAN NOVEL?

At the heart of Rohinton Mistry's monumental new novel lie questions as essential as breathing. How can hope and dignity be maintained in the face of daily atrocity? And atrocity that comes not with the sudden violence of a Holocaust but in a steady, relentless drip-drip-drip of degradation and disappointment. What is the price of forbearance in the challenging of injustice, and when does stoicism turn into fatalism? Cities like Bombay are routinely given tags like "City of Hope" or "City of Dreadful Night"; Mistry digs beneath the comfort of such abstractions to a level of complexity where murderers command our...

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