Last Man in Tower, by Aravind Adiga, Atlantic Books, RRP£7.99, 421 pages
Aravind Adiga scooped the 2008 Man Booker Prize with his boisterous debut The White Tiger.
This third offering reprises big themes of greed, injustice and ambition with another set of richly flawed characters.
Tower A of the Vishram Co-operative Housing Society is squashed between illegal slums and Mumbai’s airport. A developer offers its residents huge sums if they will unanimously sell him their flats, prompting jubilation.
Masterji, a retired teacher, is the only one who chooses not to sell. Each resident in turn begins conspiring against him, which Adiga skilfully escalates from sneers to a comically inept assassination attempt.
The meat of this novel is the residents’ increasingly shrill self-justifications for their own collective greed, but Adiga refuses to allow easy sympathy for any party.
The result is a nuanced and darkly comic novel that probes a small community’s ethics to illuminate wider conflicts of aspiration, dignity and circumstance.