?php $isHomePage="no"; $thisPageName="aravindadiga.php"; $title=": Book Club Questions: Aravind Adiga"; $description="Book Club discussion questions for Aravind Adiga"; $keywords="last man in tower, between the assassinations, last man in tower, aravind adiga, reading groups, book clubs, OurBookClub, book recommendations, book reviews"; require_once 'header.inc'; ?> Last Man in Tower
White Tiger
Between the Assassinations

Last Man in Tower by Aravind AdigaBook Cover of Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga

Searing. Explosive. Lyrical. Compassionate. Here is the astonishing new novel by the Man Booker Prize–winning author of The White Tiger, a book that took rage and anger at injustice and turned it into a thrilling murder story. Now, with the same fearlessness and insight, Aravind Adiga broadens his canvas to give us a riveting story of money and power, luxury and deprivation, set in the booming city of Mumbai (these comments are from the Publisher). Click here to read the full book review.


1. What are some of the major themes of the novel? How does Adiga set them forth even in the first pages through his description of Vishram Society? What do you think the banyan tree symbolizes?
2. The novel begins, “If you are inquiring about Vishram Society, you will be told right away that it is pucca—absolutely, unimpeachably pucca.” What does the word pucca mean? Why is this fact about Vishram important to the story?
3. How does Adiga use humor as social commentary?
4. Why is Masterji so respected at the beginning of the novel? How would he be treated in the United States?
5. On page 7, there is a quote adapted from the Bhagavad Gita: “I was never born and I will never die; I do not hurt and cannot be hurt; I am invincible, immortal, indestructible.” Which characters in the novel seem to feel this way?
6. According to Masterji, his wife’s favorite saying was “ ‘Man is like a goat tied to a pole.’ Meaning, all of us have some free will but not too much” (page 41). Does this prove true for him?
7. There are dozens of scenes that revolve around food. What do the characters’ eating habits tell us about them?
8. Is Dharmen Shah a villain? What are his intentions? Who else might be considered a villain in the story?
9. Discuss Masterji’s friendship with Mr. and Mrs. Pinto. Does envy come into play? How does the offer change their relationship?
10. What is the symbolism behind Mr. Kothari’s flamingos? What are some of the other characters’ influential memories?
11. There are several instances of betrayal in the novel. Whose struck you as most shocking?
12. The offer brings out many different emotions and reactions from the residents of Vishram. In general, how is the reaction of the women different from that of the men in the building?
13. Several of the characters have children, Masterji included. How does their role as parents influence their decision-making? How does parenting in the novel’s modern-day India compare to parenting in the United States?
14. After reading the sign his neighbors have posted criticizing him, Masterji thinks, “A man is what his neighbours say he is” (page 196). Is this true in the novel? How does that notion affect Masterji? Do you think the neighbors’ opinions were entirely new or had just lain dormant until he refused the offer?
15. What role does class play in the story? How does the neighbors’ treatment of Mary and Ram Khare reflect their attitudes in general?
16. Why do you think Mr. Pinto changes his mind about accepting the offer? Is it only about the money or are there other reasons as well?
17. When Shah hears the news about Masterji, he says, “ ‘I thought it would be a push down the stairs, or a beating at night. That’s all…I forgot we were dealing with good people’” (pages 358–359). What does he mean?
18. Why does Ajwani refuse to sign?
19. The last line of the novel is, “Nothing can stop a living thing that wants to be free.” What is this referring to?
20. Why doesn’t Masterji just agree to sell? What would you have done?

These questions are provided by the Publisher.

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White Tiger by Aravind AdigaBook Cover of White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize, White Tiger and its author Aravind Adiga is introduced by the publisher as a major literary talent. The White Tiger offers a story of coruscating wit, blistering suspense, and questionable morality, told by the most volatile, captivating, and utterly inimitable narrator that this millennium has yet seen (these comments are from the Publisher). Click here to read the full book review.


1. The author chose to tell the story from the provocative point of view of an exceedingly charming, egotistical admitted murderer. Do Balram's ambition and charisma make his vision clearer? More vivid? Did he win you over?
2. Why does Balram choose to address the Premier? What motivates him to tell his story? What similarities does he see between himself and the Premier?
3. Because of his lack of education, Ashok calls Balram "half-baked." What does he mean by this? How does Balram go about educating himself? What does he learn?
4. Balram variously describes himself as "a man of action and change," "a thinking man," "an entrepreneur," "a man who sees tomorrow," and a "murderer." Is any one of these labels the most fitting, or is he too complex for only one? How would you describe him?
5. Balram blames the culture of servitude in India for the stark contrasts between the Light and the Darkness and the antiquated mind set that slows change. Discuss his rooster coop analogy and the role of religion, the political system, and family life in perpetuating this culture. What do you make of the couplet Balram repeats to himself: "I was looking for the key for years / but the door was always open"?
6. Discuss Balram's opinion of his master and how it and their relationship evolve. Balram says "where my genuine concern for him ended and where my self-interest began, I could not tell" (160). Where do you think his self-interest begins?
7. Compare Ashok and his family's actions after Pinky Madam hits a child to Balram's response when his driver does. Were you surprised at the actions of either? How does Ashok and his family's morality compare to Balram's in respect to the accidents, and to other circumstances?
8. Discuss Balram's reasons for the murder: fulfilling his father's wish that his son "live like a man," taking back what Ashok had stolen from him, and breaking out of the rooster coop, among them. Which ring true to you and which do not? Did you feel Balram was justified in killing Ashok? Discuss the paradox inherent in the fact that in order to live fully as a man, Balram took a man's life.
9. Balram's thoughts of his family initially hold him back from killing Ashok. What changes his mind? Why do you think he goes back to retrieve Dharam at the end of the novel? Does his decision absolve him in any way?
10. The novel offers a window into the rapidly changing economic situation in India. What do we learn about entrepreneurship and Balram's definition of it?
11. The novel reveals an India that is as unforgiving as it is promising. Do you think of the novel, ultimately, as a cautionary tale or a hopeful one?

These questions are provided by the Publisher.

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Between the Assassinations by Aravind AdigaBook Cover of Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga

. Welcome to Kittur, India. It's on India's southwestern coast, bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west and the Kaliamma River to the south and east. It's blessed with rich soil and scenic beauty, and it's been around for centuries. Of its 193,432 residents, only 89 declare themselves to be without religion or caste. And if the characters in Between the Assassinations are any indication, Kittur is an extraordinary crossroads of the brightest minds and the poorest morals, the up-and-coming and the downtrodden, and the poets and the prophets of an India that modern literature has rarely addressed. A twelve-year-old boy named Ziauddin, a gofer at a tea shop near the railway station, is enticed into wrongdoing because a fair-skinned stranger treats him with dignity and warmth. George D'Souza, a mosquito-repellent sprayer, elevates himself to gardener and then chauffeur to the lovely, young Mrs. Gomes, and then loses it all when he attempts to be something more. A little girl's first act of love for her father is to beg on the street for money to support his drug habit. A factory owner is forced to choose between buying into underworld economics and blinding his staff or closing up shop. A privileged schoolboy, using his own ties to the Kittur underworld, sets off an explosive in a Jesuit-school classroom in protest against casteism. A childless couple takes refuge in a rapidly diminishing forest on the outskirts of town, feeding a group of "intimates" who visit only to mock them. And the loneliest member of the Marxist-Maoist Party of India falls in love with the one young woman, in the poorest part of town, whom he cannot afford to wed. Between the Assassinations showcases the most beloved aspects of Adiga's writing to brilliant effect: the class struggle rendered personal; the fury of the underdog and the fire of the iconoclast; and the prodigiously ambitious narrative talent that has earned Adiga acclaim around the world. Click here to read the full book review.


1. The symbols of each major religion act “like signposts to identify the three religions of the town to voyagers from the ocean (p.39).” Do you think these symbols act as a warning to visitors or are they welcoming signs of the diversity of Kittur? Discuss the relationships these three world religions have with each other within the city and the tensions they cause among its inhabitants.
2. Shankara is from one of the richest families in town, yet he is ashamed of his half-Hoyka background and resents his driver for being a full Brahmin. Jamayya has no issue working for another Brahmin, but refuses to share a room with another servant, because that servant is of a lower caste. In what ways do the all characters in the book struggle with the issues of caste and class in Indian society? How do characters use caste and class to define themselves and their relationships with others?
3. Discuss how the travel guide descriptions of Kittur embellish and contribute to the development of the city’s character, as well as to the individual characters in each of the stories. How do the descriptions act as a foil to the very personal, individual vignettes and unite them into a whole?
4. The assistant headmaster D’Mello is disillusioned with the state of the Indian government, and yet there are hints in the story of his past idealism that are revealed when he speaks to or thinks of his student, Girish. What do you suppose happened to D’Mello and how might Girish remind him of his past? Discuss why he feels compelled to share secrets with the young boy—is he trying to protect his idealism of youth? Live vicariously through the boy? Or protect him from the very idealism that turned against D’Mello?
5. As he is struggling not to collapse, D’Mello pulls the curtains down in the adult theater, exposing all of the pornography. He thinks to himself, “he saw everything, and he understood everything, at last.” What do you think he has finally understood, and how did his final vision bring him to this understanding?
6. While Ratna is waiting in a bus station with the diseased boy who was going to marry his daughter, a stranger says to them, “We’ll have to hand this country back to the British or the Russians or someone, I tell you. We’re not meant to be masters of our own fate.” (p. 287) How is this underlying thought represented in the stories throughout the book? How does it permeate the minds of many of the characters? Discuss the circumstances in Kittur that may have led to these attitudes.
7. Truth is preserved in gossip and rumor more so than in the newspapers in Kittur. Corruption runs rampant through the police and the government. How do the characters subtly fight this? What is holding them back from doing more? How does corruption affect the characters’ mindsets in regard to politics and power?
8. At the Cathedral of Our Lady Valencia, one of George’s friends remarks, “You know what the biggest difference is between being rich and being like us? The rich can make mistakes again and again. We make only one mistake, and that’s it for us (p.246).” How is this concept central to the stories of Kittur, especially that of George?
9. Even though Murali is a high-born Brahmin and successful in life, the stigma of communism prevents him from marrying a lower-caste girl—why? Discuss Indian Communism and its interpretation of caste. In what ways does it become its own kind of caste and why do you think it is seen as one to be avoided?
10. Many of the characters in the stories came to Kittur for a better life only to become disillusioned and lost. How does the city swallow them? Are they limiting themselves or is the city limiting them? Why or why not?

These questions are provided by the Publisher.

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