Last Man in Tower: Book summary and reviews of Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga

Last Man in Tower

By Aravind Adiga

Last Man in Tower
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2011,
    400 pages.

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Book Summary

Searing. Explosive. Lyrical. Compassionate. Here is the astonishing new novel by the Man Booker Prize–winning author of The White Tiger, a book that took rage and anger at injustice and turned it into a thrilling murder story. Now, with the same fearlessness and insight, Aravind Adiga broadens his canvas to give us a riveting story of money and power, luxury and deprivation, set in the booming city of Mumbai.
 
At the heart of this novel are two equally compelling men, poised for a showdown. Real estate developer Dharmen Shah rose from nothing to create an empire and hopes to seal his legacy with a building named the Shanghai, which promises to be one of the city’s most elite addresses. Larger-than-life Shah is a dangerous man to refuse. But he meets his match in a retired schoolteacher called Masterji. Shah offers Masterji and his neighbors—the residents of Vishram Society’s Tower A, a once respectable, now crumbling apartment building on whose site Shah’s luxury high-rise would be built—a generous buyout. They can’t believe their good fortune. Except, that is, for Masterji, who refuses to abandon the building he has long called home. As the demolition deadline looms, desires mount; neighbors become enemies, and acquaintances turn into conspirators who risk losing their humanity to score their payday.
 
Here is a richly told, suspense-fueled story of ordinary people pushed to their limits in a place that knows none: the new India as only Aravind Adiga could explore—and expose—it. Vivid, visceral, told with both humor and poignancy, Last Man in Tower is his most stunning work yet.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

BookBrowse
Last Man in Tower was a struggle to finish. The reviews I've read all seem to skirt around the central issue that I imagine many readers will have with this novel: it's slow-moving, and there are far too many characters. In a single page, ten characters might be named, all of whom you've heard of before but must be introduced again and again (a third of the way through the novel, central characters are still being identified by their ages and professions; even the author seems to acknowledge that it's difficult to keep everybody straight). There is some absolutely beautiful descriptive language on display throughout, but the author spends far too much time setting the scene, so that by page 200, you're still waiting for something to happen." - Morgan Macgregor

Other Reviews
"Starred Review. Though occasionally overwritten ("The hypodermic needle of the outside world had bent at his epidermis and never penetrated"), Adiga is a master of pacing." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Adiga nails the culture of corruption. How exciting to watch a writer come into his own, surpassing the achievement of his first novel." - Kirkus

"A funny yet deeply melancholic work, Last Man in Tower is a brilliant, and remarkably mature, second novel. A rare achievement." - The Economist

"Magnificent ... A richly evoked, Dickensian world that explores the chasm between rich and poor, the venal and the incorruptible ... Adiga succeeds in giving a voice and a sense of humor to the powerless. .... All human life - and longing - is here. Marvelous stuff." - The Tatler (UK)

"As well-paced as any crime story. Every one of the huge cast of characters is brilliantly drawn. I’m aghast with admiration. There is no one writing fiction as good as this in Britain or America." - Reader's Digest

"Evocative, entertaining, and angry ... All of Adiga's gifts for sharp social observation and mordant wit [come] to the fore.... Teeming with life and skullduggery." - Ceri Radford, The Telegraph (UK)

"A subtle and nuanced examination of the nature of personal corruption ... [Adiga] 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." - The Guardian(UK)

"Timely ... An unsettling novel, well suited to the febrile and shifting city it seeks to reclaim." - The Observer (UK)

"Richly comedic ... Beautifully done. ... Funny and engaging as he can be, Adiga never forgets the seriousness of his subject ... A morality tale for the modern age [that is] as honest as it is entertaining." - The Times "Acute observations and sharp imagery ... An indictment of the hypocritical mores of the middle class, prepared to cut corners and take recourse to ‘number two activities’ in its hurry to move up in life. Like all cautionary tales, it embodies more than a little truth about our times." - Financial Times (UK)

"Ambitious ... Memorable ... Adiga is Dickensian in the extent of his cast. Around his two main characters he marshals more than 20 others ... [He] lays out this most frenetic of megalopolises before us, by turns fascinating, sensual and horrifying, as his writing takes an impressive step onwards." - The Independent on Sunday (UK)

"Richly evocative ... To make a building such as a block of flats the frame for a novel has rich possibilities in a modern world where lives are forever being forced together by collective structures.... Adiga [shows] considerable skill at evoking the quotidian lives, domestic and communal, of Tower A’s inhabitants." - The Sunday Times (UK)

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Author Information

Aravind Adiga Author Biography

Aravind Adiga was born in 1974 in Madras (now called Chennai), and grew up in Mangalore in the south of India. He was educated at Columbia University in New York and Magdalen College, Oxford. His articles have appeared in publications such as the New Yorker, the Sunday Times, the Financial Times, and the Times of India. His first novel, The White Tiger, won the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 2008. A second novel, Last Man in Tower, was published in 2011.

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