What’s it all about?:
A tale of one man refusing to leave his home in the face of property development. Tower A is a relic from a co-operative housing society established in the 1950s. When a property developer offers to buy out the residents for eye-watering sums, the principled yet arrogant teacher is the only one to refuse the offer, determined not to surrender his sentimental attachment to his home and his right to live in it, in the name of greed. His neighbours gradually relinquish any similar qualms they might have and, in a typically blunt satirical premise take matters into their own hands, determined to seize their slice of the new Mumbai as it transforms from stinky slum to silvery skyscrapers at dizzying, almost gravity-defying speed.
What did I think?:
This is the second book of Aravind Adiga’s that I have read, after thoroughly enjoying his Man Booker prize winning novel The White Tiger which I also recommend. In this novel we meet a host of colourful characters who are living happily in a tower block in Mumbai despite the occasional shabbiness and state of repair of their apartments. Unfortunately, change is coming in the shape of a ruthless property developer called Dharmen Shah who offers a life-changing amount of money to the residents of Tower A so that he may demolish and re-develop it as part of the “new” India. There is one catch however, all the residents must agree to be bought out, for the plan to go through, and there is one tenant – Masterji, who refuses to be moved. Masterji, an old teacher who often lectures some of the children in the towers, is quite happy in his home and quite stubbornly refuses to be goaded. His apartment is filled with memories of his late wife and daughter, and quite simply he is reluctant to leave them behind.
There is a lot of humour in this novel, especially if you like your humour quite dark…as there is bucket loads of darkness in this novel. The tenants of Tower A become almost infatuated with greed for the money on offer, and the author explores an interesting concept of exactly how far people will go to get rich. The whole smell and feel of Mumbai is also on show and the contrast between the skyscrapers for the rich and the poverty in the slums is laid out, with no holds barred for the reader to immerse themselves in. I loved the array of characters, and thought they were conceived perfectly, especially Masterji who I found myself rooting for throughout the novel. I think anyone who enjoyed The White Tiger will love this novel, and I cannot wait to read his next. One of my auto-buy authors? Most definitely!
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):