Last Man in Tower – Aravind Adiga
Ask any Bombaywallah about Tower A of the Vishram Co-operative Housing Society and you will be told that it is unimpeachably pucca. Despite its location close to the airport and bordered by slums, it has been pucca for some fifty years. But then Bombay has changed in half a century – not least its name – and the world in which Tower A was first built is giving way to a new city, a Mumbai of new development and new money; of wealthy Indians returning with fortunes made abroad.
When real estate developer Dharmen Shah offers to buy out the residents of Vishram Society, planning to use the site to build a luxury apartment complex, his offer is more than generous. Yet not everyone wants to leave; many of them have lived in Vishram for years, many of them are no longer young. But none can benefit from the offer unless all agree to sell.
As tensions rise, one by one those who oppose the offer give in to the pressure of the majority, until only one man stands in the way of Shah’s luxury high-rise: Masterji, a retired schoolteacher, once the most respected man in the building. Shah is a dangerous man to refuse, but as the demolition deadline looms, Masterji’s neighbours – friends who have become enemies, acquaintances turned co-conspirators – may stop at nothing to score their payday.