Friday, 6 April 2012

Last Man in Tower - Aravind Adiga


I loved White Tiger, which opened me up to the wonderful world of contemporary English-language fiction from the sub-continent.  I adored Between the AssassinationsLast Man in Tower brings the contrasting worlds of the first two books into conflict - the chimera of modern, corrupt, entrepreneurial India versus traditional post-Imperial India with its mix of faith and lifestyle.  As one character, who might be about to do something terrible, puts it: "Real-estate speculation was destroying Bombay." [p. 375]

Adiga's writing is at its finest when he finds beauty in the irredeemably unlovely.  As here: "This fence was supposed to mark the land's end, but a promontory of debris, broken chunks of old buildings, granite, plastic, and Pepsi Cola had sneaked past it - the entreprising garbage pushed several feet into water.  Shah's fingers pulsed as he gazed at the amphibian earth of Nairman Point.  Look; how this city never stops growing: rubble. shit, plants, mulch, left to themselves, start slurping up sea, edging towards the other end of the bay like a snake's tongue, hissing through salt water, there is more land here, more land."

PS: Has anyone else noticed how many book blurbs nowadays quote A N Wilson?  The quote tends, as here, to be along the lines of "most exciting novelist writing in the English language today."  Odd.  I always got the impression that in the learned opinion of A N Wilson, A N Wilson was the most exciting novelist writing in any language today or any other day.

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