Last Man in Tower (Adiga)

The spark was definitely there in The White Tiger, but I thought Adiga’s format (the letters) boxed him in a bit. Here, he has his full repertoire in hand, and the result is wonderful. At first, I feared that there were too many characters, but Adiga does such a superb job of characterization that it didn’t take long for me to really know and imagine each one. His prose is sharp and funny. Consider (225) –

“Storm-swollen, its foam hissing thick like acid reflux, dissolving gravity and rock and charging up the ramps that separated beach from road, breaking at the land’s edge in burst after burst of droplets that made the spectators, huddled under black umbrellas, scream.”

Not only does Adiga present great characters here, but he’s after something larger – the story of the last man in the tower who resists the overtures of an ill, but greedy developer. There’s a familiar quality here – the individual against the group – but Adiga keeps it fresh. Who develops a conscience? Who doesn’t? I was genuinely unsure about what would happen in the end (and who would be responsible for it).

Adiga’s greatest ‘character’ may be Mumbai. The city, in all of its warts and glories, is presented here with such detail and poetry. Could anyone not named Adiga get away with this? Probably not. So what?

I just want to talk with the idiot responsible for putting the blurb from USA Today on the cover. I cringed each time I saw it. “If you loved the movie Slumdog Millionaire, you will inhale {this] novel.” Idiotic on so many levels.

Great writer; another great book.

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