The Last Labyrinth is a splendid novel — serious, disturbing, lyrical, and irresistibly readable, a fascinating exploration into the turbulent inner world of a successful urban India.
Som Bhaskar is a millionaire-industrialist, married to a woman of his choice who has borne him two children, yet relentlessly driven by undefined hunger which he unsuccessfully seeks to satisfy by possession — of an object, a business enterprise, a woman. Much like Saul Bellow's Henderson he is always crying, 'I want, I want, I want'. His search takes him from Bombay to Benares, at once holy and repellent — with its narrow, dirty lanes, dancing girls and a mystical aura.
Amidst this contrasting juxtaposition of locales, the novel explores the meaning of life and death, illusion and reality, desire and resignation.
Here is an eternally contemporary theme with all its complexities; the story's spiritual and sensuous dimensions are interwoven with great finesse making this novel a rare, unforgettable treat.
The Last Labyrinth won Arun Joshi the Sahitya Akademi Award, India's highest literary honour in 1982.
Arun Joshi (1939-1993), son of a botanist and an eminent educationist, was born in Varanasi and educated in India and the U.S. After getting his Masters degree from M.I.T., he returned to India to pursue career in the corporate world.
Yet writing remained his passion. In the five novels he wrote he spun out some of the most thought-provoking and outstanding fiction written in the twentieth century Indian literature and firmly established his credentials as a writer of rare talent and sensitivity.
"The Last Labyrinth is considered an outstanding contribution to Indian English literature for its restless search for a meaning in human existence, its treatment of the multiple levels of reality, challenging narrative technique and an evocative use of language." — Sahitya Akademi Award Citation
"The story is beautifully written... holds the reader's undivided attention to the finis." — Khushwant Singh