The Apprentice is a novel totally different in tone from all other novels and writings of Arun Joshi. The protagonist, Ratan Rathor, represents the quintessence everyman — a contrast to other protagonists in so far as his intellectual level is much lower. An unsophisticated youth, jobless, he comes to the city in search of a career; unscrupulous and ready to prostitute himself for professional advancement. Seduced by materialistic values, he takes a bribe to clear a large lot of defective weapons. As a consequence, a brigadier, who is also his friend, has to desert his post and, to escape ignominy, commits suicide. A penitent Rathor, avoids confessing his guilt, but, tries to achieve redemption by cleaning the shoes of devotees, every morning, at a temple.
The Apprentice attacks materialistic values but with a different strategy. Ratan Rathor wades through corruption to arrive at an understanding of life and its affirmations. According to World Literature Today, "the novel is cast in a series of Browning-like monologues, to a boy to whom the protagonist, burdened with sorrow of 'a wasted life', lays bare the motives, aspirations, dilemmas and frustrations of his past."
"Here, finally is an English novel by an Indian writer that can be easily said to be one of a class." — Free Press Journal
"Its timbre seems an aural image of the times and conveys its sickness remarkably effectively." — Sunday World
"There is certainly an impassioned quality in the writing." — Financial Express
"One of the very few Indo-Anglian writers who seem to be conscious of technique and technical experimentation..." — Books Abroad, USA
"Arun Joshi's is a peculiar talent and connoisseurs of style will have many things to say about The Apprentice... there is the promise of a new and vigorous personality in Indian fiction." — Tribune
Arun Joshi (1939-1993) was educated in India and USA. He got his Master Degree in Management from M.I.T. His five novels and a collection of short stories won him critical acclaim and a recognition as an author of rate sensitivity and exceptional talent. The Last Labyrinth was selected for a prestigious Sahitya Akademy Award, India's highest literary honour.