I loved Aravind Adiga’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel ‘The White Tiger’ and short story collection ‘Between the Assassinations’ and his latest novel ‘Last Man in Tower’ is equally enthralling. The story is about a real estate developer Dharmen Shah who offers the residents of a dilapidated tower block in Mumbai vast amounts of money to leave so that he can build luxury apartments on the land. Of course, one by one they all accept his offer apart from Masterji, a retired widower. Soon, his neighbours become prepared to take matters into their own hands.
I love Adiga’s evocative and colourful descriptions of life in India. His writing in ‘Last Man In Tower’ truly brings twenty-first century Mumbai to life – everything from the smell of the traffic to the taste of the food leaps off the page. The book is as much about the city as it is about the large and complex cast of characters who inhabit it with the reader being confronted with the messy realities of life in modern India. The characters themselves are masterfully drawn and I like how Adiga makes them a little bit ambiguous – even though you may sympathise with Masterji for not wanting to leave the building which holds so many memories and admire him for standing up to Shah, he is still not a perfect human being and as a reader, I felt frustrated by his stubbornness at times. While the pace is a little slow, this is unsurprising given that this book is driven by its characters and the sprawling complexity of the setting rather than the action of the plot. ‘Last Man in Tower’ is a smart, entertaining and impressive piece of work and I highly recommend it.