Searing. Explosive. Lyrical. Compassionate. Here is the astonishing new novel by the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The White Tiger, a book that took rage and anger at injustice and turned it into a thrilling murder story. Now, with the same fearlessness and insight, Aravind Adiga broadens his canvas to give us a riveting story of money and power, luxury and deprivation, set in the booming city of Mumbai.
At the heart of this novel are two equally compelling men, poised for a showdown. Real-estate developer Dharmen Shah rose from nothing to create an empire and hopes to seal his legacy with a building named the Shanghai, which promises to be one of the city’s most elite addresses. Larger-than-life Shah is a dangerous man to refuse. But he meets his match in a retired schoolteacher called Masterji.
Shah offers Masterji and his neighbors—the residents of Vishram Society’s Tower A, a once respectable, now crumbling apartment building on whose site Shah’s luxury high-rise would be built—a generous buyout. They can’t believe their good fortune. Except, that is, for Masterji, who refuses to abandon the building he has long called home. As the demolition deadline looms, desires mount; neighbors become enemies, and acquaintances turn into conspirators who risk losing their humanity to score their payday.
Here is a richly told, suspense-fueled story of ordinary people pushed to their limits in a place that knows none: the new India as only Aravind Adiga could explore—and expose—it. Vivid, visceral, told with both humor and poignancy, Last Man in Tower is his most stunning work yet.
©2011 Aravind Adiga (P)2011 Random House
"As with The White Tiger, [in Last Man in Tower] Adiga describes an India that is avaricious, acquisitive and insecure. His earlier work told the story of a desperate, rural poverty; Last Man in Tower depicts a genteel middle-class impoverishment of imagination and hope. Whether it is through the fight for water or the battle to board the commuter trains, Mr. Adiga captures with heartbreaking authenticity the real struggle in Indian cities, which is for dignity. A funny yet deeply melancholic work, Last Man in Tower is a brilliant, and remarkably mature, second novel. A rare achievement." (The Economist)
I picked up this audioibook because 1) I enjoyed Adiga's first novel, The White Tiger, and 2) the synopsis reminded me of several other books I've enjoyed that center on the residents of an Indian apartment complex, notably Manil Suri's The Death of Vishnu. At first, the novel seems to fall into a similar category, revealing the various personlities and daily interactions of the diverse residents with a wry humor. But their generally peaceful relationships are disrupted by the offer from a developer who wants to tear down Tower A and Tower B. Initially, most of the residents of Tower A want to accept what seems to be a generous offer; but a few holdouts either suspect the builder's honesty or see no reason to leave the place where they have lived contentedly. The problem is that, under their rules, 100% of the residents must agree to sell. Using first logic, then legal technicalities, then bullying and rumors, then threats, the builder's henchman and the residents persuade all but one man to sign the agreement. At this point, any humor that remains is very dark, indeed.
Adiga seems to be making a comment about the extent of human greed, especially in a cramped former 'third world' city (Mumbai) where prosperity has flourished more rapidly than such values as morality, empathy, justice, and a sense of community can allow. Tower A began to remind me of a colony of rats trapped in a sewer, climbing over one another to reach the only means of escape and resorting to the most primitive enactment of survival of the fittest. It's to Adiga's credit that he creates characters that are, initially, so likable, as this only makes the metamorphoses wrought by greed more despicable. His epilogue shows that, sadly, these changes were more than tranistory--perhaps a reflection on the changes success is bringing to the national character. If there is any light for humanity in the ending, it is in the fact that one character, over the course of what occurs, seems to have found a conscience.
While I wouldn't rate Last Man in Tower as a "must read" book, readers who enjoyed The White Tiger or any of the many other books written in recent years that deal with the changing economic, social, and political landscape of modern India would probably find it worth their time.
Powerful story, but I really did not like the narrator chosen for this audio reading. He just seemed too forced and fake, especially in reading the female characters. I found it very annoying. A major distraction to the story, overall. He barely sounds Indian. A narrator can make or break an audio book for me. This is one book that I would have much preferred reading the actual book. The narrator fo White Tiger was much more convincing.
I loved the story, and the narration. I was a little put off by the indian accent at first, but then really enjoyed it.
Ok. The narration was hard to follow. I know Indian accents very well but it was overdone to the point that it was interfering with the enjoyment of the book. And what about the plot and characters: it seems like this book has been compiled by borrowing plots from different bollywood movies over the last few decades. And only the dark sides. There are better books about India than this. The White Tiger was definitely better than this. I am not expecting much depth from this author anymore
In the lower 50 percent.
This was my first.
While lacking in action, it was ripe with insight into the lives and daily habits of the residents of the "co-op" apt building. It shows the difference in the daily struggle between the rich elite, the middle class and those digging for a living, through the garbage dumps. Kind of reminiscent of life here in the USA, with our "class" system.
Once again, the amazing Sam Dastor, as narrator, makes an audio book better. If I had to actually read this one, I would have skipped it.
the narration was wearing on me a bit during the first half, wondering if this would be as good as white tiger, but I was completely hooked in the second.
I loved White Tiger. I do not know if I love the Last Man in Tower because I could not stand the narration of this book. The voices were so exagerrated and unpleasant that I gave up listening. I will have to
If you are an indian or have been to india or have seen a single bollywood movie...nothing in this book will seem original. I have said the same thing about the
Horrible. Same accented voice for multiple characters. And stereotyped voices.
Very interesting plot and psychological probe of the Indian mind. Takes contemplation to understand the underlying morality of the story.
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