About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

19. - 482.) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry – The first 250 pages about life for the poor in Bombay and rural India was interesting. Gradually Mistry cast a spell for the characters were so credible that you became an invisible observer of their lives. The lives of the untouchable rural tailors, Ishvar and Omprakash, the urban tailor, Dina, and the hill student, Macek, intertwine as they struggle to simply stay alive in Bombay. I was shocked to learn how badly the untouchables and poor of India were treated in the mid-1970’s. I thought it might have been a modern Kim (review number 194) but there is none of Kim’s romantic roaming. The perseverance Mistry’s characters show against overwhelming odds is inspiring and humbling. I found myself reading faster and faster as I had to know what happened next in their lives. Mistry neither exaggerates nor makes overt social commentary. His descriptions are adequate but neither flamboyant nor overdone. His narrative was so powerful at times I almost cried. He lets the story lead us to reflect on the cruelty of castes and the absolute corruption through the nation. Ajit had always told me India was very corrupt. I had always assumed he might have overstated the situation. I now believe he understated. How lucky I am to be born in Canada. I can understand the praise showered on the novel. It is one of the few novels that I will think about for a long time. With 807 pages I think the process of dividing into two volumes from a generation ago was a good idea. The movie Australia was a grand movie saga. A Fine Balance is a grand tale on paper. (May 25/09)


  1. Rohinton Mistry is one of the finest writers I have read. His book, SUCH A LONG JOURNEY, also set in Bombay (now Mumbai), is one of the best I've read in recent years. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. I highly recommend it. I'm yet to read A FINE BALANCE.

  2. Prashant: Thanks for the comment. I shall take a look for Such a Long Journey.

  3. Bill - Thanks for this excellent, excellent review. This sounds like a really unforgettable read, and the power of the writing sounds compelling. It's now on my TBR.

  4. Margot: Thanks for the very kind words. I believe you will be impressed when you read the book.