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Word Count: 781
Suppose that you were reading a novel about the struggle of a group of people on the margins economic racial religious margins of society in Hitlers Berlin or Stalins Moscow a novel written by a refugee you wouldnt expect a particularly happy ending would you But somehow even though Rohinton Mistry is a Parsi refugee from India who moved to Canada in 1975 when Indira Ghandi declared a State of Emergency and assumed sweeping powers we just arent prepared for the moment when his narrative of life in Indiras India turns truly dark This really says more about our political naivet when it comes to the Third World than it does about his plotting technique or his writing style I suspect that for most readers and I know it was true of me theres a sense that oppressive totalitarianism is really only a tragedy when it drags a developed Western nation back down into barbarism--that for underdeveloped nations such murderous misrule is pretty much the normal state of things Perhaps theres even some lingering imperialistic racist feeling that such backwards peoples are not capable of imposing the kind of all-encompassing soul-killing dictatorship that we find so horrifying when they descend on a Western populace or that these long abused peoples unused to freedom can not feel its absence as profoundly as do we Rohinton Mistry disabuses us of such notions quite forcefully A Fine Balance is set in an unnamed Indian city--I guess its supposed to be Bombay--in 1975 It centers around the unlikely living arrangements of four characters who are forced by their strained economic circumstances to share an apartment Dina Dilal is a widower who has spent her life trying to escape her abusive and domineering brother in a society where independent women are to say the least not the norm The apartment represents her attempt to maintain her freedom but she can not afford the rent on her own She is
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