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The In-Between World of Vikram Lall Paperback – Sep 14 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Canada; 2 edition (Sept. 14 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385659911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385659918
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #93,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Young Vikram Lall's in-betweenness as an Indian in Kenya is brought home to him when he and his sister Deepa become close friends with an African boy, Njoroge, and two English children, Bill and Annie. It is 1953, and while the Lall family celebrates Queen Elizabeth's coronation, Mau Mau rebels are slaughtering white families to protest against British colonial rule, aided by "faithful" African servants and even Indian sympathizers like Vikram's beloved Manesh Uncle. In that tempestuous "year of our loves and friendships," eight-year-old Vikram is initiated into a confusing world of contradictory loyalties and agonizing losses. The shifting moral and political sands of that in-between world will define everything Vikram comes to experience, eventually (as he says on the first page) causing him to be "numbered one of Africa's most corrupt men, a cheat of monstrous and reptilian cunning."

Despite this unappealing description of himself, the unheroic hero of M.G. Vassanji's new novel has an engaging voice and an absolutely riveting story to tell. Hiding from his enemies in an obscure Ontario village, he traces the entangled narrative lines that led him to this dangerous and compromised state, quixotically hoping at the end to blaze a new trail towards "truth and reconciliation" in Kenya. In the tradition of the finest political novels, Vassanji filters the hopes and disappointments of the emerging nation through the familiar lenses of family, friendship, passion, despair, and grief. In his moving accounts of Bill and Annie's lost innocence, Njoroge's and Deepa's secretive romance, and Vikram's entrapment in ethical quicksand, Vassanji portrays a country torn apart by ethnic differences and corruption. Carefully poised between humane tenderness and jaded cynicism, between the imperative to name names and the impulse to forgive, Vikram Lall's multigenerational narrative is at once hauntingly sad and generously humane. Vassanji's return to the East African setting of his Giller Prize-winning Book of Secrets is an artistically triumphant one. The In-between World of Vikram Lall ranks with his very best work. --John C. Ball --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"An astonishing tapestry of irresistible vignettes, brilliantly exploring the painful lessons of history . . . a mesmerizing literary landscape. . . . [with] luminous characters and inspiring prose."
–from the comments of the 2003 Giller Prize jury

"This novel is one of the most satisfying you will come across . . . . What Vassanji does wonderfully well, with zero hectoring and unsettling calm, is describe the complexity of race relations in post-colonial, multi-cultural societies. . . . It’s the reason this novel is both a gripping story and an enduring historical document."
–Donna Bailey Nurse in The National Post

"The In-Between World of Vikram Lall . . . wrestles passionately and intelligently with big intractable questions. Belonging in a category with Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Vassanji’s saga is sweeping in scope . . . . There are brilliant passages in this novel. Vassanji’s evocation of the pervasive anxiety created by terrorist attacks is visceral."
– Janette Turner Hospital in The Globe and Mail

"The prose of Vassanji’s fifth novel tumbles out so easily it looks effortless. . . . The rich details of rural African life fall into place as they would in an easy conversation . . . [a] well-wrought portrait of a troubled man."
Quill & Quire feature review

"This is a taut, marvellous story, told in a dispassionate voice that still manages to convey passion and wonder…. Vassanji leaves his readers with dazzling images of the Eden and its opposite that comprises modern Africa, told by a man who has travelled many roads, only to find that they all lead him in one direction: home."
–Nancy Wigston in Books in Canada

Praise for M. G. Vassanji

"It is part of Vassanji’s great talent to demonstrate that the minor changes – unexpected love, sex, accusations – in the life of a very modest man are, in fact, transformations of history."
The Globe and Mail

"Vassanji is one of the country’s finest storytellers."
Quill and Quire

"One of our most thoughtful, as well as one of our most able, writers."
–Financial Times (U.K.)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There are many books where you are so intrigued with the story that you can't put the book down until you've finished the whole book in a single session. This is not one of them. While the book is well written, educational and has its interesting plot twists and turns, this is not what one would describe as a page turner. While I genuinely enjoyed the book, it was at the same time a really tough slog getting through it.

If this book were 200 pages instead of 400 it would have been twice the book. As it is, I would recommend Rohinton Mistry's works over this.
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By A Customer on Jan. 12 2004
Format: Hardcover
Vassanji's narrative of the history and cultures in Kenya are extremely interesting. He depicts a very realistic portrait of life during those times. The only problem I had with this book was the slow beginning which was hard to read through. As the novel progresses, the reader witnesses the change within Vikram, the main character in this novel and his inability to come to terms with his loss of innocence as a young child. Those devestations that taunt him even as an adult underlay the reasons why he has become who he is in the later parts of the novel. Vikram's character is truly perplexing and worth the read of this award winning book.
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Format: Paperback
I recently travelled to Kenya, and hence decided to read some Kenyan authors. I picked up this book and was immediately engrossed in the story of Vikram Lall, from his childhood during the colonial era in Kenya, to his adulthood in the heady post-colonial period. The characters are brought to life very realistically and it seems to me that Vassanji captures the spirit of the country and the time period brilliantly. The writing is engaging and you can almost picture the country and the people before your eyes. Someone should make a movie of this book!
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Format: Paperback
The In-Between World of Vikram Lall is fascinating story about Vikram, an ethnic Indian, as he grapples with the history and cultures in Kenya . Vassanji gives a good depiction of life during colonial Kenya , of how the hero came to lose his innocence as a young child and of how he came to terms with his new life. In the end, Vikram a rich but perplexing character. As someone who has lived in Africa and grappled with the different cultures and histories, I can relate to this story.
Also recommended: The Usurper and Other stories, Kill me quick, Disciples of Fortune, A Blade of Grass
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