John's Reviews > Last Man in Tower

Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga
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's review
Mar 29, 2012

it was amazing
Read from April 06 to 09, 2012

I'm a little surprised by many of the tepid reviews here. I was truly impressed with Aravind Adiga's ability to write a literate, plot-driven tragicomedy that manages to ask some big questions. The novel is funny, literate, bitter, and profound, and it deserves our attention and respect.

The plot is pretty straightforward. Occupants of a cooperative apartment building are offered a small fortune by a developer so he can tear their building down and build a new luxury apartment tower. However, they must all agree to take the money and move out, and they don't all agree. As time wears on toward the developer's deadline, neighbors are pitted against neighbors; families are torn apart; and long-buried dreams come to life.

I find the novel's characters to be multi-dimensional, and I think the author gives us a chance to understand the impurity of everyone's motives. In this city, virtually everything is for sale. "In the continuous market that runs right through southern Mumbai, under banyan trees, on pavements, beneath the arcades of the Gothic buildings, in which food, pirated books, perfumes, wristwatches, meditations beads, and software are sold, one question is repeated, to tourists and locals, in Hindi or in English: What do you want?"

A lesser author would have stopped there, but Adiga forces us to confront our own wants, and our attitudes toward success and failure, more directly. Is it wrong to want more? What if "getting" comes at the expense of the elderly, the sick, the poor, the past? What if saying "no" merely reflects a stubborn fear of change? What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Can India become a modern country without losing its own soul? These are marvelous questions to be wrung out of a simple tale about a real estate buyout.
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