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Last Man in Tower [Hardcover]

Aravind Adiga
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
Price: 17.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

16 Jun 2011
Ask any Bombaywallah about Vishram Society - Tower A of the Vishram Co-operative Housing Society - and you will be told that it is unimpeachably pucca. Despite its location close to the airport, under the flight path of 747s and bordered by slums, it has been pucca for some fifty years. But Bombay has changed in half a century - not least its name - and the world in which Tower A was first built is giving way to a new city; a Mumbai of development and new money; of wealthy Indians returning with fortunes made abroad. When real estate developer Dharmen Shah offers to buy out the residents of Vishram Society, planning to use the site to build a luxury apartment complex, his offer is more than generous. Initially, though, not everyone wants to leave; many of the residents have lived in Vishram for years, many of them are no longer young. But none can benefit from the offer unless all agree to sell. As tensions rise among the once civil neighbours, one by one those who oppose the offer give way to the majority, until only one man stands in Shah's way: Masterji, a retired schoolteacher, once the most respected man in the building. Shah is a dangerous man to refuse, but as the demolition deadline looms, Masterji's neighbours - friends who have become enemies, acquaintances turned co-conspirators - may stop at nothing to score their payday. A suspense-filled story of money and power, luxury and deprivation; a rich tapestry peopled by unforgettable characters, not least of which is Bombay itself, Last Man in Tower opens up the hearts and minds of the inhabitants of a great city - ordinary people pushed to their limits in a place that knows none.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (16 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848875169
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848875166
  • Product Dimensions: 16.7 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 241,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Aravind Adiga was born in Madras in 1974. He studied at Columbia and Oxford Universities. His first novel, The White Tiger, won the Man Booker Prize for 2008. A former Indian correspondent for Time magazine, his writing has also appeared in the New Yorker, the Financial Times, and the Sunday Times among other publications. He lives in Mumbai.

Product Description

Review

`Savage, sordid and ever so sad.... a dizzying portrait of Mumbai' --Sunday Telegraph

`Dharmen Shah is a magnificent creation... This is a richly-evoked, Dickensian world that explores the chasm between rich and poor, the venal and the incorruptible... All human life - and longing - is here. Marvellous stuff.' --Sebastian Shakespeare,Tatler

`This is a very fine novel, wonderfully rich in detail and the evocation of everyday life... It has a range, ambition and humanity which one rarely finds in contemporary British or US fiction: further evidence that the true successors of the European novelists of the 19th century are now to be found in the Indian sub-continent and the Arab world.' --Allan Massie, The Scotsman Allan Massie, The Scotsman

`Adiga's always engaging, ultimately disturbing and tragic novel... limpid, witty and addictive... Adiga is like Dickens or any novelist who sees things politicians, big businessmen and others cannot see and do not want us to see'
--Alan Taylor, Herald

`As well paced as any crime story but so much more. Every one of the huge cast of characters is brilliantly drawn. I am aghast with admiration. There is no one writing fiction as good as this in Britain or America.' --AN Wilson

`Adiga's writing is rich and lush... The scope, in this novel teeming with life and skulduggery, is indeed Dickensian, although the characterisation is anything but. Dicken's painted heroes and villains; Adiga's characters are bundles of moral ambivalence... He is a writer who is evocative, entertaining and angry.' --Daily Telegraph

'This is what makes Last Man in Tower as honest a book as it is entertaining: funny and engaging as he can be, Adiga never forgets the seriousness of his subject, or the general corruption.' --The Times

'Last Man in Tower retains The White Tiger's dynamism and adds some of the finesse of Between the Assassinations... Dominating the narrative is Mumbai itself, once again one of the mightiest cities on earth... Adiga lays out this most frenetic of megalopolises before us, by turns fascinating, sensual and horrifying, as his writing takes an impressive step onwards.' --Independent

'Last Man in Tower has a broader and more forgiving feel than The White Tiger, incorporating a gentler comic tone that finds affection as well as despair poking fun at its characters' pretensions and frailties... In this complex and multi-layered novel, he continues his project of shining a light on the changing face of India, bringing us a picture that is as compelling as it is complex to decipher.'
--Guardian

About the Author

Aravind Adiga was born in Madras in 1974. He studied at Columbia and Oxford Universities. A former India correspondent Time magazine, his articles have also appeared in publications like the Financial Times, the Independent, and the Sunday Times.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss it! 23 May 2011
By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Sometimes a book is so good it's hard to do justice to it in a review. This is one of those books.

As the Vakola area of Bombay (as the author usually calls it) begins to come up in the world, the inhabitants of an apartment block are offered money by a developer to move out. One man, Masterji, a retired teacher, wants to stay. This is the story of how the promise of wealth changes and corrupts a community. But it's also so much more than that. The author takes us into the lives of Masterji and his neighbours, letting us see their thoughts and dreams and fears. With humanity and humour he paints a picture of the friendships, favours and shared histories that bind a community together; and then shows how small envies and old grievances are magnified when that community is divided.

Bombay itself is a major character in the book. There is a real sense of how the city is changing as India becomes richer. The contrasts between the lucky rich and the frightening hand-to-mouth existence of the very poor are woven into the story, but subtly, so that the reader accepts these contrasts as easily as the inhabitants. The author also highlights the cosmopolitan nature of the city, the differing religions and cultures all forming one vibrant whole.

This book made me laugh and cry. It is full of warmth and the characters are drawn sympathetically and affectionately. In many ways an intimate portrait of a small group of people, but also an in-depth look at the strengths and frailties of human nature. By a long way, this is the best book I have read this year. Don't miss it!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By Ryan Williams VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Your sympathy goes out to Aravind Adiga. Your first novel is a success, selling over a million copies and landing the 2008 Booker. Second novels are hard; bad examples lie thickly on the ground. This novel would have to follow on from The White Tiger, attempt a larger picture of Mumbai society, high and low, and present a greedy developer vs. downtrodden people story, and do it all without becoming a mere 'message novel'. The stakes couldn't seem higher.

Lucky for us, Adiga's talents survive expectation, and deliver more of what he excels at: realistic fables. Unlike many authors who write about India, Adiga shuns the ornamental and the overblown for precision and grit. The milieu is the same - Mumbai, seen from above the heights of its towering new centres of enterprise and commerce, to the slums where headless animals, 'a smear of pink imprinted with a tyre tread, an exclamation mark of blood' slump next to playing infants. He has sympathy for the downtrodden, but seems them clearly; he can present a ruthless developer's backstory with flashes of humanity; he can command variety of character and mood. If not quite an ensemble piece, the novel boasts a a larger cast, and to its benefit. However seemingly unimportant a person may seem, Adiga reminds us how we each carry a piece of our country's story within us, the imprint it makes:

'In old buildings truth is a communal thing, a consensus of opinion. Vishram society retained mementoes, over forty-eight years, of all those who had lived in it; each resident had left a physical record of himself there, like the kerosense handprint made by Rajeev Ajwani on the front wall on the day of his great tae kwon-do victory. If you knew how to read Vishram's walls, you would find them covered with handprints.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How evil happens. 23 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback
I read "White Tiger" a while ago and remember being impressed even though I can't recall anything about it now.I doubt that I'll forget this engrossing novel very quickly.

The story is a simple one about how decent people can,given the right circumstances,do terrible things.Adiga's talent is to trace the descent into evil with meticulous care and observation.No one in this novel is without flaw,just as no one is totally without redemptive features.Even the central heroic character is marked with pomposity,vanity and self deception.All the characters are given the time and space to develop themselves,all are realised as personalities,not cyphers, because of the length of the novel and its concentration on one central theme.

Perhaps the true villain of the piece is the city of Mumbai,shown here as a mixture of aching poverty,slick wealth,glamour,greed,envy,stunning beauty and teeming humanity.Where you live here is what you are to the world.What you have is what matters about you.Destitution means living on the pavement and scrounging a living from the filth around you.Wealth means existing in glamorous otherworld made all the more sumptuous by its existing within sight of human misery.Maybe this explains the devastating impact that the prospect of wealth has on the characters in the novel or maybe we're all capable of inhumanity, given the right circumstances.Whichever way you look at it,this is a novel that transcends its time and setting even though Mumbai is vibrantly and fascinatingly a major player in it.

If I read another novel of this quality this year,I shall count myself lucky.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When each man has his price. 27 July 2011
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Last Man In Tower is a rich and satisfying experience - even if I didn't find it quite as absorbing as The White Tiger. Adiga is an eloquent, visceral writer, who is a consummate storyteller, creating rich, unique, memorable characters. Reading this book is a little like sampling a Christmas pudding, rich in flavours, unexpected ingredients and the occasional glittering sixpence.

Take a small community, proud of itself, living in a small tower block in Mumbai. Don't think English Tower Block, where neighbour rarely interacts with neighbour. Think tower block as small hamlet, neighbour as extended family. Enter capitalism in the form of a developer with an eye on the main chance, and the site becoming gentrified and valuable. The developer needs all residents in the tower to agree to leave so that the building can be collapsed and rebuilt to suit the richer, luxury dwellers of the future.

Inside this stressful scenario bonds of friendship, loyalty, are exposed, stretched, snapped or strengthened, and the conflicts between tradition and progress, altruism and self-interest, family loyalties, family greed, idealism and need are played out.

Adiga is a beautifully warm and feeling writer, showing enough of each character's complex back story and individual nature to avoid easy 'this person is a villain' 'this person is a saint' categorisation. This is a big, noisy, dynamic, sprawling book, and its charm lies in part because the characters won't be pigeon holed into easy heroes and villains. Life is infinitely more complex.

Oh, and the characters are also as much fun as our individual quirkiness generally is. Very enjoyable
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars He cannot beat the last one
This was probably more challenging after the last book that Aravind wrote as people must have placed high expectations and pressure on him to write a book as great as "The... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Leeanna
5.0 out of 5 stars Bombay
A well written yarn which I'm sure has many elements of truth. Made me yearn to revisit Bombay. Sorry to come yo the end.
Published 2 months ago by joanna
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read
The book is written with sympathy and knowledge. The characters shine from the page offering readers an insight into a different way of life.
Published 2 months ago by domini tansey
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I would recommend this book to all those not brave enough or not fit and energetic enough to get out of their comfort zone and experience the hardships millions suffer on a daily... Read more
Published 2 months ago by denisewhiting
5.0 out of 5 stars Last Man in Tower
All human life is in this book set in teeming Bombay. The characters in the book are all so well drawn & so believable. There is humour & tragedy. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Pat45
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant fable of modernising India
An enjoyable read with beauifully drawn, larger than life characters. The story unfolds in a sometimes amusing and sometimes frustratingly inevitable manner. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Michael Gibbs
5.0 out of 5 stars Well told story
Gently told but persistent to the inevitable end. Quintessential India provides the backdrop to the depiction of greed, desperation and betrayal.
Published 3 months ago by Donal O'Sullivan
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating subject
The book is a fascinating portrayal of the characters, location and culture of modern day Bombay. The ending pulls the whole narrative together in a thought provoking way. Read more
Published 4 months ago by R. Parker
5.0 out of 5 stars another excellent tale
loved this book but found it less absorbing than The White Tiger primarily because of the number of characters all with a stake in the story - took me quite a long time to... Read more
Published 7 months ago by browneyedgirl
4.0 out of 5 stars An immersive read
Yet again, Adiga has written a wonderfully immersive novel bringing the residence of the setting to life in such a skilful way. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Gem Hanford
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