384 pages, 9.52 × 6.56 × 1.23 in
September 30, 2004
Alfred A. Knopf
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 140004216X
ISBN - 13: 9781400042166
Read from the Book
My name is Vikram Lall. I have the distinction of having been numbered one of Africa’s most corrupt men, a cheat of monstrous and reptilian cunning. To me has been attributed the emptying of a large part of my troubled country’s treasury in recent years. I head my country’s List of Shame. These and other descriptions actually flatter my intelligence, if not my moral sensibility. But I do not intend here to defend myself or even seek redemption through confession; I simply crave to tell my story. In this clement retreat to which I have withdrawn myself, away from the torrid current temper of my country, I find myself with all the time and seclusion I may ever need for my purpose. I have even come upon a small revelation -- and as I proceed daily to recall and reflect, and lay out on the page, it is with an increasing conviction of its truth, that if more of us told our stories to each other, where I come from, we would be a far happier and less nervous people.I am quite an ordinary man, as you will discover, and moderate almost to a fault. How I came upon my career and my distinction is a surprise even to me. But my times were exceptional and they would leave no one unscathed.Part 1 -- The Year of Our Loves and FriendshipsOneNjoroge who was also called William loved my sister Deepa; I was infatuated with another whose name I cannot utter yet, whose brother was another William; we called him Bill. We had all become playmates recently. It was 1953, the coronation year of our new
From the Publisher
M. G. Vassanji, author of The Book of Secrets, winner of the first Giller prize, brings us a novel that is rich in sensuous detail and political insight, and brilliantly captures the tyranny of history and memory, and questions one’s role and responsibility in lawless times.
Born in colonial Kenya, Vikram Lall comes of age at the same moment as the colony, which in 1953 is celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II even as the Mau Mau independence movement is challenging British rule. But while Kenya is being torn apart by idealism, doubt and violent political upheaval, Vic and his sister Deepa begin to search for their place in the world. Neither colonists nor African, neither white nor black, the Indian brother and sister find themselves somewhere in between in their band of playmates: Bill and Annie, British children, and Njoroge, an African boy. These are the friendships that will haunt the rest of their lives.
We follow Vic from a changing Africa in the fifties, to the sixties -- a time of immense promise. But when that hope is betrayed by the corruption and fear of the seventies and eighties, Vic finds himself drawn into the Kenyatta government’s orbit of graft and power-brokering. Njoroge, on the other hand, can abandon neither the idealism of his youth nor his love for Deepa, coerced into marrying within her Indian community. But neither the cynicism of the one nor the idealism of the other can avert the tragedies that await.
Acute and bittersweet, The In-between World of Vikram Lall is told in the voice of the exiled Vic as he contemplates from the shores of Lake Ontario the tides that have brought him so far from home and the possibility that even as history was shaping him, he has had a hand in altering its course.
About the Author
M. G. Vassanji was born in Kenya and raised in Tanzania. Before moving to Canada in 1978, he attended M.I.T. and the University of Pennsylvania, and later was writer in residence at the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa. Vassanji is the author of four acclaimed novels: The Gunny Sack, which won a regional Commonwealth Prize; No New Land; The Book of Secrets, which won the very first Giller Prize; and Amriika. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two sons.
“Tautly written . . . The book admirably captures the tenor of the postcolonial period: the predicament of the Asian minority, the corruption that marred Kenya’s fledgling independence, and the individual tragedies that were the cost of the revolution.”–The New Yorker“Vassanji has a clear sense of how cruelly individuals get battered when the taking of sides is required. In an ever-more-polarized world, his insights about the “in-between” condition become more compelling by the moment.”–Seattle Times“Brilliantly written and deeply felt, it is a resonant family novel that is also a brutally honest portrayal of the last half century of tumultuous Kenyan history . . . Vassanji displays his great gifts; this beautiful novel, which unfolds with intimacy and an inexorable sense of destiny, is proof that fictional truth can illuminate an epoch in history like nothing else.”–Boston Globe“A political panorama understood as a landscape of the heart. Love and loss are what endure for Vikram Lall, and Vassanji explores them with all the tact of a true literary power. Gorgeous and heart-rending glimpses of Africa permeate the book . . . the author leaves us, as all fine writers do, with the shred of hope held out by their own wise and forgiving narrative.”–Chicago Tribune“Vassanji, who was the 2003 winner of Canada’s Giller Prize, explores a conflict of epic proportions from the perspective of a man trapped in “the perilous in-between,” writing with a deftness and evenhandedness that dist