I know very little about India and that’s one of the main reasons why I really enjoy reading Aravind Adiga’s books.
The White Tiger drops you bang in the middle of contemporary India – in between city and village life; in between castes and lifestyles. The main character of the novel is an astute chauffeur determined to escape his fate, whatever it takes. Through him we see the roughest side of Indian society, made more palatable by the epistolary form. I do love reading novels written in the form of letters – somehow it makes me feel closer to the characters in the story.
I read The White Tiger a few years ago and as my memory erases the content of novels before I can say “I really enjoyed it but I can’t remember the plot” this is all I can say about it right now. I wanted to write about Last Man in Tower, which I finished only last week – but seeing as I also enjoyed Adiga’s first novel, I thought I’d talk about them both.
Last Man in Tower is precisely about that: about the last man who stands up to the ruthless developers who want to knock down a residents’ tower in Mumbai, to build a luxury complex.
Masterij is a retired school teacher who holds on to his Rubik cube and the memory of his dead wife. The thought of being bought out and driven away from his neighbours not only fills him with sadness, but also gives him a new mission in life: to represent the powerless but hard-working people of Mumbai.
As a range of characters emerged with their fears, their quirks and their dark sides, I found their presence lingering in my mind and having to constantly grab my Kindle to read about whatever they were up to next.
As all great writers do (and I do consider Araving Adiga a wonderful writer), Adiga reflects a world which is not divided into good and bad people and I ended up both agreeing and disagreeing with most characters’ actions and words as the story progressed.
A bit of suspense, a bit of humour, in-depth characters and a reflection of contemporary India make this one of those books that stay with you for a long, long while.