This is the second of Aravind Adiga’s books that I’ve read – the first was The White Tiger, which I thought was quite fabulous. Last Man in Tower is another novel that focuses on one particular individual and his ability to stand up for what he believes in.
Last Man in Tower focuses on Masterji, an old schoolteacher who refuses to give up his home, which has become a prime piece of real estate in Mumbai. Although he is the stand-out character of the novel, there are a huge array of characters, including other tenants of Masterji’s high rise (many of whom have hidden secrets and agendas), and the shady ‘real estate’ agent who is perpetually coughing blood. I often find books with many characters difficult to follow, but because I read this so quickly, I didn’t really have that problem here. I just about managed to keep all the relationships straight in my head, anyway. 🙂
Once again, there is a huge focus upon class and caste differences in India today. I’ll be honest, I didn’t find it as arresting as The White Tiger, but I can see how this is more relevant. Masterji and some of his other tenants are old school – they value their homes, as dilapidated as they are, and their education, the little that it does them. They go up against violence, greed, and perceived class superiority. Needless to say, unlike The White Tiger, the ending is far more predictable, and tragic. There were moments where I was on the verge of tears.
Finally, I have just read that Adiga’s next novel, Selection Day, is scheduled to be released on the 8th September of this year! I am most definitely going to be getting it – although Last Man in Tower isn’t quite as fantastic as The White Tiger, it continues to display Adiga’s deftness with character and language, as well as his realistic portrayal of modern India. I can’t wait to read some more!