Aravind Adiga’s White Tiger was a jolt. The stark picture it painted was something refreshing. And now Last Man in Tower.
The book cover was inviting. Soft, soothing(reminds me of the pink Government quarters I resided once), caressing…It is a new world that Adiga takes us into-the world of real estate, money, greed, Mumbai in all splendour, honesty, greed and connivance. I loved the description of Mumbai in Manil Suri’s The Death of Vishnu. But Vishram Society takes us further-into the very heart and soul of a co-operative housing building with its multitude tenants with their own agendas and aspirations, what they would do to get their desires fulfilled…..what a man would do to get his job done.
Attention to the minutest details is refreshing-the sick dog on the steps, the markers that guide Mrs.Pinto on her walks, the noticeboard, etc.
Of all the characters-Masterji alias Yogesh Murthy, Broker Ajwani, Computer Cafe Ibrahim(his joke with the sign post at the beginning of the story is in sharp contrast to what he does in the end) Secretary Kothari, Builder Shah, Puri, Pintos, the tower itself stands tall-Vishram Scoety is one the reader will remember for long and connect to it every time he sees a building of that stature.
It is harmony at first until an offer comes to buy the place from the residents with an outright price that makes them gape and pinch themselves…and makes them commit acts they never dreamt of. An intense drama unfolds as the offer is made and we, apart from the tower, watch as a spectator as each event unfolds-the threats, cajoles, humilations to make each of the residents accept the offer until…
The change each character undergoes before and after the offer is made is sketched beautifully. Greed, hunger, humiliation, compete with honesty and virtue. And the extend to which it all goes, swallowed in a place like Mumbai. Yogesh Murthy is a character we would encounter in our daily lives- pure of heart, selfless. So are Shah, Ajwani, Pinto, Puris.
An elaborate plan hatched from page one till the last. Yes, you will love this. Just as The White Tiger. Every word is real. The sensations are real. No doubt.