Last man in tower2:24 PM
I enjoyed reading Arvind Adiga's debut novel "The White Tiger". It is dark, gritty tale of a man from the vast hinterlands of India, we all know little about. It was the story of this man's journey who rose from the position of a cab driver to an entrepreneur. Arvind takes us by sheer surprise with the way he warrants that there is an inherent grey side in everyone of us which presents itself at the most opportune moment and turns us in to animals from the wild even before we realize it. He deals with the underlying theme of "Everyone is only as good as the situations allow them to be",very effectively.
So the moment I knew his second book was out, I wanted to read it. Finally I ended up reading his latest work "Last man in tower", a few months ago. The story is about a set of families who live in a very old society apartment, which is located at the far end of Mumbai amidst stinking slums. The real estate boom has started to take off in this part of the city and in his quest to exhibit his numero-uno status in the construction business, one of the major real estate developers in the city proposes a seemingly unrealistic offer to the residents of the housing society with a deadline, after which the it would be withdrawn. Things start to get heated up when an old teacher, a widower, one of the residents in the tower refuses to accept the offer. With every passing minute, it is like a time bomb ready to explode, that is how bad the situation builds up to be. In the due course, we are presented with the reasons for his refusal, his strained relationship with his son and the fond memories he has with his daughter in his apartment. That is as much as I intend to divulge about the plot.
Just like in his first book, Arvind tries to explore the dark facets of human beings and how seemingly ordinary people can turn in to vicious savages in the face of luring money and persuasive greed. Despite an interesting premise, the book seems to flounder because it is unsure of the course it is about to take, if it is trying to be sardonic or be a grim tale about the harsh realities of life. If the content was intended to be satirical, the writing is just not sharp enough and for a serious story, the approach doesn't feel right with half etched characters. A little more depth to the back stories of other characters apart from the old school teacher would have made the proceedings little more interesting. The long musings of the school teacher though adds to the better understanding of his mindset and his reason behind the refusal, it fails to evoke the necessary sympathy with his situation and slows down the pace considerably. The other characters also looked convenient and clichéd ,but maybe that is the writers way of saying it subtly, hey that is how life is," clichéd".
For all its intended purposes the book didn't quite work that well for me. However maybe you might disagree, you might like it. Give it a try, it is worth one.