Publisher: Harper Collins India
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Aravind Adiga – It was just that name that beckoned me to read “Last Man in Tower”. The “Man Booker Prize” raised Adiga to the zenith of popularity and deemed an eternal popularity to all of his future works. “The White Tiger”, an excellent debut novel is one my favorite reads (made me roll over in mirth, many a time).The book gave a thought provoking insight about India and New Delhi in particular. “Last man in Tower”, the third of Adiga’s works, continues in the same genre.
This time around, the novel is set in Mumbai and revolves around one particular Vishram society and its residents. An eclectic mixture of people reside in the two dilapidated towers – Tower A and Tower B that the society comprises of. Yogesh Murthy, better known as the Masterji, Mrs.Puri, the Pintos, the Secretary and many such lay the foundation of the story. The storyline is as simple as it could get. In the power hungry and money minded underworld of Bombay, a powerful builder, and his sidekick approach to buy off Vishram Society in all its entirety and one by one the inhabitants of the building fall for the lucrative offer. All, except our very own Masterji! His neighbors, turn over to the dark side, at the offer of eye-watering money and in a satirical method, pressurize the lone black sheep to give his assent. Does Masterji fall into line at the end ? Is he forced to? Or did he hold his stand till the very end? And most important of all – how far would people go for the sake of money? The climax of the book would answer all your questions.
Adiga has always been a prodigy at etching out characters. He proves his mettle by taking it one step higher – through the way he has portrayed Vishram Society itself as an edifice (being a South Indian, the portrayal made me google whether Vishram actually exists or is a result of fiction) Also, the readers are able to get under the skin of each and every character and emote alike as well. The
The first half of the book is more descriptive and tends to get a tad boring, what, with the umpteen number of characters that the story includes. The second half takes on a more belligerent tone and that is where the interest of the reader pikes. The book is a representation of the Mumbai underworld of power, greed and selfishness. It is also a valid showcase of the true human mentality, once the money factor enters an equation.
The builder, Dharmen Shah in this novel is more similar to the “Stork” in “The White Tiger” and Adiga always narrates from the underdog’s point of view. In both cases, money was the game changing factor. Likewise, there are quite a few similarities in all of Adiga’s works. India and its foggy underworld is the recurring factor and though there is a stark difference in the two stories, one just can’t stop comparing it to “The White Tiger”
Read this novel just for the portrayal of the average man’s mind in today’s India, but nothing more. Don’t expect thrill out of it, but you will most certainly get truth! Certainly not the best of Adiga, but a decent one-time read.