Every author has a style, a particular target readership, a genre, and I for one really enjoy indulging in authentic, true daily life Indian fiction. Over the years, my preference has slightly shifted from the thrillers of Sidney Sheldon and Dennis Lehane to the raw everyday canvas painted by Rohinton Mistry, Vikram Seth and many more.
One such writer is Aravind Adiga. Known all around the world for his debut masterpiece, “The White Tiger”, for which he won the 2008 Man Booker Prize. I remember reading The Whiter Tiger and being completely pulled into the story. And that’s the magic of his words and the thought that gets put down in ink.
I will be completely honest when I say that I did not read “Last Man In Tower” in one go. Not because it was too long a read, but mostly it did not catch my interest as much as I had expected it to. But the second time when I picked it up, I did get into the zone and enjoy it. So, you may not really be compelled to read the whole thing at the first go, but it sort of grows on you in a while.
The story is fairly simple. A dilapidated society in a section of Mumbai so close to the unappealing slums, yet prime in the eyes of the real estate hawks, becomes the target of a wealthy builder. And when he decides to demolish the said society and build his luxurious housing project, Dharmen Shah offers the residents of Vishram Society, an offer they cannot reject. Filled with the dreams of finally having a rich life, all the members succumb to the deal, but one. Yogesh Murthy, know mostly as Masterji, takes it upon himself to fight the development mafias, and refuses to part with his home. Recently widowed and living alone, Masterji, the man who was looked up to, becomes the one person everyone detests. That’s it. Simple and short. But the writer doesn’t just tell us the fights, the pain, the disturbances. He deep dives into the lives of Mumbaikars and the city of dreams. Each family, fighting their own battles, is not beautified in any way. Their inhibitions and their weaknesses are just as important as their confidence that life will be better.
Read this novel if you enjoy a simple read about the complicated lives of middle class families, trying to make ends meet in a city like Mumbai. Read it for the indomitable spirit of a man not ready to give up. And definitely read it to experience the writing prowess of Aravind Adiga.
Next up- The Outsider by Stephen King!