Goodreads blurb: Aravind Adiga’s first novel since his Man Booker Prize-winning best seller “The White Tiger” (“Amazing . . . One of the most powerful books I’ve read in decades” –Deirdre Donahue, “USA Today): ” a stunning, darkly comic story of greed and murder that lays bare the teeming metropolis of Mumbai.
Real estate developer Dharmen Shah’s offer to buy out the residents of Vishram Society–a formerly respectable, now crumbling apartment complex that abuts the infamous Dharavi slums–is more than generous. But one man stands in the way of Shah’s luxury high- rise: Masterji, a retired schoolteacher who will not leave his home in Vishram’s Tower A. Shah is a dangerous man to refuse, but as the demolition deadline looms, Masterji’s neighbors–friends who have become enemies, acquaintances turned co- conspirators–may stop at nothing to score their payday.
An electrifying, suspense-filled story of money and power, luxury and deprivation, peopled by brilliantly drawn, unforgettable characters, “Last Man in Tower” exposes the hearts and minds of the everymen and women of a great, booming city–ordinary people pushed to their limits in a place that knows no one.
As the blurb states all mayhem breaks loose when real estate developer Dharmen Shah offers an exorbitant sum of money to all the residents of Vishram Towers in Bombay, but there is just one hurdle that stands between them and the money itself; Masterji, a retired schoolteacher who for no apparently good reason refuses to sell to the builder. The author then takes us through a period of approximately 3-4 months between the time the offer is made and the time it expires and on a journey through the lives of all the residents of Vishram Tower A and their attempts to convince Masterji to accept the builder’s offer.
In his trademark style, Aravind Adiga manages to deliver quite a power-packed punch with his insights into the psyche of the ‘everyday man’; people like you and me with their everyday lives and the struggles, joys, pains, happiness that come with it. While not delving too deep into each and every one of the characters, the author manages to convey just about enough about each of them to ensure that the readers sympathize with their plight and to a large extent even understand the motivations behind their actions. Where the author scores really high though are the ‘grey areas’, the places in the character psyches and motivations that leave the reader unable to decide one way or the other.
Using his trademark style where he lets the events unfold at their own pace in an unhurried manner, the author successfully manages to deliver quite a power-packed punch right at the very end, while the epilogue further manages to reinforce our faith in the author and his belief that ‘life goes on, no matter what.’ While this may put off readers who like fast-paced books and like their action hard, fast and furious, connoisseurs of well written literary fiction will surely lick their lips at the prospect of reading a truly well written book with extremely believable characters stuck in everyday situations.
I personally enjoyed each and every character quite a bit, and especially liked the character of Shanmugam, the left-hand man of Dharmen Shah, the builder. Using him, the author manages to humanize and de-humanize the builder, at the same time, and that is quite an achievement where the author manages to make us think twice about the main antagonist (if he can be called that) in the book.
Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for a honest and unbiased review.