This is the third book by the author, his first one being ‘The White Tiger’ which won the Man Booker Prize in 2008. I had read this award winning book sometime last year and had enjoyed it. Though ‘Last Man in Tower’ explores a story in similar lines, I cannot say the same about this book. No doubt, it is a very well written and a well researched story but there is something about it being so pessimistic, that it kind of creeps on you and leaves you devastated in the end. I cannot help but do a small comparison of the two books I have read of the author.
The White Tiger was fast paced but Last Man is Tower starts slowly. The author has spent a good number of pages in painting – the characters,their emotions, pictures from their daily life, the surroundings and the overall atmosphere. It adds to ambiance in the novel but at some point it starts to creep on the readers. I felt, the book radiated many negative vibes and that is why it took me a long time to finish it. I have realized that what I read affects my moods and emotions in some way of the other and even after reading a few pages, I felt heavy and had to keep it aside. In ‘The White Tiger’ protagonist was from the lowest strata of society and it was rich rags to riches tale. It dealt with how an honest person can get corrupt in the process of seeking power and money. Last Man in Tower is about the middle class people who are forever trying to elevate their status in society and when an opportunity knocks on their doors, they are ready to stoop as low as can be possible to avail of it, even if that involves sacrificing some one’s life! That is the cliche, as much as I can see that there is truth in the story, I don’t believe there cannot be exception to it.
Here is the blurb from the book:
Real estate developer Dharmen Shah’s offer to buy out the residents of Vishram Society—a formerly respectable, now crumbling apartment complex that abuts the infamous Dharavi slums—is more than generous. But one man stands in the way of Shah’s luxury high- rise: Masterji, a retired schoolteacher who will not leave his home in Vishram’s Tower A. Shah is a dangerous man to refuse, but as the demolition deadline looms, Masterji’s neighbors—friends who have become enemies, acquaintances turned co- conspirators—may stop at nothing to score their payday.
An electrifying, suspense-filled story of money and power, luxury and deprivation, peopled by brilliantly drawn, unforgettable characters, Last Man in Tower exposes the hearts and minds of the every men and women of a great, booming city—ordinary people pushed to their limits in a place that knows none.
With the real estate prices sky rocketing in India, there can be such instances but, is really all humanity wiped out of the Indian middle class? It is a powerful novel with a theme that is relatable in many ways but I do feel it paints a very wrong picture of Indian society, the middle class in particular. I didn’t really enjoy the book but I would not stop any one from reading it. It certainly left me squirming with uneasiness but it did me ample thoughts to ponder on!
I have seen the second book of the author, Between the Assassinations, in the library but I am wary about picking it up. I think I will leave a good long gap before reading another depressing and pessimistic story about India.
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This review was also posted on Pages