ARAVIND ADIGA'S NEW NOVEL is set in exactly the kind of middle-class hell that one might turn to novels to escape.
The residents of an old housing society near Bombay's Santa Cruz airport suffer from all the expected middle-of-the-road woes and shortcomings—water shortages, lack of space and privacy, envy, penny-pinching, noisiness and nosiness.
Over their humdrum lives lies the patina of ‘respectability'—another name, we discover, for staying neutral, carrying on and making do. In fact, some of Vishram Housing Society's inmates are so inscrutable and dull as to have "no known nature". On the other hand, perhaps the lack of a nature is just a ruse, for "any man's public character in a place as congested as a co-operative society was understood to be, to some extent, a charade".