- Prizes and Awards: Giller Prize 2003
The In-Between World of Vikram Lall Paperback – Sep 14 2004
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
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.)
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Also recommended: The Usurper and Other stories, Kill me quick, Disciples of Fortune, A Blade of Grass
Most recent customer reviews
This is a rare book in that it depicts life in a region (East Africa) among three ethnic groups with their various dynamics. Read morePublished on Nov. 16 2008 by Hanif
Vikram Lall, the narrator of this engrossing story, looks back over the last fifty years of his life. Read morePublished on June 24 2008 by Friederike Knabe
I have lived in east Africa, and I have enjoyed this author before, so I read this. It is not as compelling as I had hoped, but it has a strength about it that makes it a good... Read morePublished on June 19 2004 by David C Polk