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5 Gripping Novels About Greed and The Human Condition

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Recipe by the Book: Stay Cool With Cucumber Soup

Aravind Adiga’s follow-up to The White Tiger is a stunning novel set in contemporary Mumbai. Last Man in Tower is the story of two men poised for a showdown: real estate developer Dharmen Shah, who rose from nothing to create an empire, and schoolteacher Masterji, the only man standing in the way of Shah’s new luxury building. Although Masterji has the moral high ground, Shah is a dangerous man to refuse—and with the buyout deadline looming, Masterji’s neighbors are beginning to turn against him.

Inspired by Last Man in Tower, we’ve put together a list of exciting, discussion-worthy books about greed and the human condition.

Ed KingEd King
Written by David Guterson

Ed King re-imagines one of the world’s greatest tragedies—Oedipus Rex—for our own era, bringing contemporary urgency to a tale that still has the power to shock and inform. In Seattle of 1962, Walter Cousins makes the biggest error of his life: He sleeps with Diane Burroughs, the sexy, not-quite-legal British au pair who’s taking care of his children for the summer. When Diane becomes pregnant and leaves their baby on a doorstep, it sets in motion a tragedy of epic proportions. The orphaned child, adopted by an adoring family and named Edward Aaron King, grows up to become a billionaire Internet tycoon and an international celebrity who unknowingly, but inexorably, hurtles through life toward a fate he may have no way of reversing.
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The Wings of the DoveThe Wings of the Dove
Written by Henry James

Set amid the splendor of London drawing rooms and gilded Venetian palazzos, The Wings of the Dove is the story of Milly Theale, a naïve, doomed American heiress, and a pair of lovers, Kate Croy and Merton Densher, who conspire to obtain her fortune. In this witty tragedy of treachery, self-deception, and betrayal, Henry James weaves together three ill-fated and wholly human destinies unexpectedly linked by desire, greed, and salvation.
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Union AtlanticUnion Atlantic
Written by Adam Haslett

At the heart of Union Atlantic lies a test of wills between a retired history teacher, Charlotte Graves—who has suddenly begun to hear her two dogs speaking to her in the voices of Cotton Mather and Malcolm X—and an ambitious young banker, Doug Fanning, who is building an ostentatious mansion on what was once Charlotte’s family land. Drawn into the conflict is Nate Fuller, a troubled high-school student who stirs powerful emotions in both of them. What emerges is a riveting story of financial power, the defense of tradition, and the distortions of desire these forces create.
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A Week in DecemberA Week in December
Written by Sebastian Faulks

In the blustery final days of 2007, seven characters will reach an unexpected turning point: a hedge fund manager pulling off a trade, a professional football player recently arrived from Poland, a young lawyer with too much time on his hands, a student led astray by Islamist theory, a hack book reviewer, a schoolboy hooked on pot and reality TV, and a Tube train driver whose Circle Line train joins these lives in a daily loop. Panoramic and masterful, the novel shines a light on modern greed, the dehumanizing effect of the electronic age, and the ongoing fragmentation of society.
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