Last Man In Tower rises from its drab premise as Aravind Adiga builds it into an unlikely thriller
I may have been slightly unfair to Aravind Adiga in my review of The White Tiger, which, despite my complaints about its effect being very close to that of Slumdog Millionaire, was a story told successfully. Like the acclaimed film, The White Tiger is about the triumph of the human spirit, even though in the case of Aravind Adiga’s book, the protagonist is wily and selfish. That is good, of course, and infinitely more endearing than a chocolate boy who won’t harm anybody. The White Tiger is what I call grit through shit, and a compelling tale of a man who works his way up in life.
From Last Man In Tower, I had low expectations because of its story. A shrewd builder against a stubborn old man? It must be funny, I thought, maybe very funny.
The depth with which Aravind Adiga gets into the details of the residents of Vishram Society in Vakola, Santacruz East, was enough to drown me. The characters are so believable that you’re almost sure the author has based his story on a real incident someone narrated to him. The plot of Last Man In Tower, unexciting as it sounds, is what made me finish the book. The residents of Vishram Co-Operative Housing Society, convinced by Dharmen Shah, the builder who wants them to let the building go for redevelopment, gang up against Yogesh Murthy, the retired schoolteacher, who for some reason refuses to let the house go.
Whether Masterji is being pigheaded or only wants more money is what his neighbors and co-residents ponder over, and the book doesn’t seem to be working its way to being humorous at any point.
Aravind Adiga, after leaving me surprised with the way he ended The White Tiger, left me shocked with the turn he gave the story of Last Man In Tower. It possibly made a strong impact on me because I wasn’t expecting anything serious from the book, all the while expecting it to dash into a dead-end that would make me either guffaw when the big twist finally came or chuckle at its predictability.
Last Man In Tower didn’t keep me hooked throughout, but had me amazed at its detailing – something I marveled over even more after it sank in that Aravind Adiga had truly delivered.