the title refers to the idea that survival depends on one's ability to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair. it's interesting, i think, because this read can throw you into a state of hope or despair as well. (despair probably being the easier emotion with all the tragedy throughout the book.) and when we get overwhelmed by one, we have trouble seeing the other, disrupting the balance. this book is really, really sad. but there are moments of great joy and hope as well. i'm not sure if this is his point, as the title would suggest, or if his intention is actually to mock this point. one of the characters that we spend a lot of time with believes that everything pretty much goes to shit, and much of the characters' lives and the lives of poor people in an oppressive government support that. he seems to say that there's no balance there, only despair and no hope for better. do we take this character's side, or do we try to remember that someone's awful situation doesn't hold only hurt, but also some light? if survival depends on this balance, what does it mean if that balance is unattainable?in the end i believe that he writes of the need to keep this balance because he believes it. and his story is just an honest account of how hard it is to keep that balance when life gives you very little to hope for....or maybe this is just me, trying to find the hope in what he's written, because truly this fiction which is not fiction is filled with absolute tragedy.this is powerful without being explosive (there are no special effects in his writing, but it is completely engaging all the same), and i think it will stay with me for a long time.