A Fine Balance uses a straightforward third person omniscient narration. A style that has become suspects and largely outmoded in this postmodern period. The question is why did Mistry choose to write in such a mode? Now an analysis of the narrative style of a text will necessarily involve a close scrutiny of the intention of writing it.
In the novel the text as such, basically the descriptive part other than the character's conversations or their thoughts, stands out for its stark factuality and linearity of time. The text is just a long list of all the events and various descriptions. It doesn't probe at all the intentions or the mental make-up of the characters. We are left to make out whatever of their psychological make-up from their conversations or actions. In other words the text is non-intrusive.
At a cursory glance the novel fits in very nicely as a typical Bollywood masala movie. With its stereotyped characters: a widow on her own, a student far away from home and an uncle-nephew duo struggling against caste prejudices and all of them struggling to survive under Emergency's shadow. Lots of cliched relationships and a whole slew of amusing coincidences make it up. Many really tragic events take place like Om's family burning away In caste violence, Dina's husbands death, Maneck's father passing away in his absence, losses of jobs, losses of homes, people without legs, Om's castration, building up of emotional bonds between characters and then these being sundered apart. An easily digestible potboiler kind of story taking the readers along on an emotional roller coaster.
But this kind of interpretation is what Mistry is cautioning the readers against by raising various questions in his epigraph and in the novel itself. To proceed further we need to differentiate between the narrator and the author. In a third person narrative the relationship between the narrator and...