Fictionalizing History: Strategies and Technique in Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance
Rohinton Mistry, a preeminent Indian-Canadian novelist, was born in Mumbai in 1952. He has lived in Canada since 1975, and published three novels and two collections of short stories. Among the various awards he has won are Neustadt International Prize for Literature (2012) and Commonwealth Writers Prize (1996). A Fine Balance, published in 1995, is considered his masterpiece. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1996. The novel focuses on the historical phase of India when the Emergency was imposed in 1975 by Indira Gandhi. Peopled with a vast cast of characters, it depicts not only the political events of 1975 but also the social evils and conflicts inherited by India for centuries.
The paper explores how Rohinton Mistry has employed historical events to depict not only the state of the nation at a particular moment but in order to document their tragic consequences in the lives of individuals. It also vividly describes the entrenched caste system, political manipulations, and ruthless tyranny exercised by the privileged over the downtrodden and the underprivileged. Mistry’s achievement remains that he has used fictional strategies and devices to expose the undercurrents in our society and at the same time to present a vision that shows innate strength of the nation’s citizens. The paper has endeavored to recreate the author’s vision as inhering in his fictional practice.
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