Last Man In Tower, By Aravind Adiga


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The Independent Culture

Like the impromptu cricket shots on crowded Juhu beach, "what is squirming, quicksilver, heterodox thrives" in Mumbai. So how, in this flashy, reckless, go-getting Indian metropolis, can a man like "Masterji" survive?

A retired teacher, widowed, he lives his old-school values as "sovereign of your plot of earth" – or rather, as third-floor denizen of the Vishram Society flats in the airport suburb of Santa Cruz. A property tycoon offers tower-dwellers a fortune to quit; Masterji alone holds out.

From this premise, Adiga builds a funny, tender, satirical and hugely readable panorama of changing lives in one spot that in some ways trumps Lanchester's Capital. Last year's strange Man Booker panel scorned it. For every other reader, an all-round treat awaits.