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The Resource The in-between world of Vikram Lall, M.G. Vassanji

The in-between world of Vikram Lall, M.G. Vassanji

Label
The in-between world of Vikram Lall
Title
The in-between world of Vikram Lall
Statement of responsibility
M.G. Vassanji
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Storyline
Tone
Award
Giller Prize, 2003.
Review
  • Vassanji’s Book of Secrets (1996) won Canada’s first Giller Prize, and his latest novel has garnered the award once again. “What makes a man leave the land of his birth?” asks Vikram Lall, a middle-aged Indian raised in East Africa. This sprawling novel explores that question as it follows Lall through his Kenyan childhood, during the Mau Mau rebellion, to his government career in Nairobi, with its impossible corruption, and his shameful flight to Canada, his current home. Despite vivid descriptions of place, Lall narrates with self-described detachment, which distances readers from the characters’ dramas. But his emotional aloofness allows him to ask layered, provocative questions about the “in-between” role of Indians in Africa, the legacy of colonialism, the piercing impact of childhood affections, and how corruption, like so many other life-altering shifts, happens “in inches and proceeds through veils of ambiguity.” A fascinating story of what it means to shift between countries, cultures, and versions of a life. Recommend this to readers of V. S. Naipaul, Wole Soyinka, and other accomplished chroniclers of postcolonial worlds. -- Gillian Engberg (BookList, 09-01-2004, p66)
  • /* Starred Review */ As an Indian child growing up in 1950s Kenya, Vikram Lall is at the center of two warring worlds—one of childhood innocence, the other "a colonial world of repressive, undignified subjecthood" in which the innocent often meet with the cruelest of fates. He passes his early days in Nakuru playing with his sister, Deepa, their neighborhood friend Njoroge, and English expatriates Annie and Bill Bruce. Though Vic is third-generation African, he understands that Njo is somehow more Kenyan than he or his family will ever be. Police regularly raid Nakuru looking for Mau Mau rebels, who are terrorists in the eyes of Europeans, but freedom fighters to native Kenyans; one day tragedy strikes the Lall family's English friends. Haunted by a grisly description of the crime scene, the Lalls eventually pick up and move to Nairobi. Fast-forward to 1965, when Kenya has achieved independence and Mau Mau sympathizer Jomo Kenyatta is now the president of the nation. Njo, who worshipped Jomo from an early age, is a rising star in the new government. He tracks down the Lalls in Nairobi and begins an innocent courtship of Deepa, much to her parents' chagrin. Meanwhile, Vic continues to allow his memory of young Annie to define his life and, as a result, makes some morally ambiguous judgments when he lands a position in the new government. Telling his story from Canada, where he fled after getting top billing on Kenya's "List of Shame" as one of the most financially corrupt men in his country, Vic is a voice for all those who wonder about the price of the struggle for freedom. 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 distinguish him as a diligent student of political and historical complexities and a riveting storyteller. Agent, Bruce Westwood.3-city author tour.(Sept. 19) — Staff (Reviewed July 26, 2004) (Publishers Weekly, vol 251, issue 30, p37)
  • As Vassanji's (The Book of Secrets) novel begins, Vic, Deepa, and Njoroge, playmates in 1950s Kenya, are made aware of their country's turmoil and their own differences when a British family is massacred in their home. Vic and his sister Deepa are Indian, and Njoroge is African—and he may know something about the killings. As they grow up, the three reflect Kenya's fractured social and political history. Though Kenya gains its independence from Britain in the early 1960s, change is slow to come in some areas; Deepa and Njoroge are in love, but the taint of the violent Kikuyu movement prevents them from marrying. With corruption and favoritism the keystones of the new regime, Vic finds himself a willing servant for government leaders. Perhaps he can help make a better life for Deepa and protect new activist Njoroge from the state's political enemies. But walking the tightrope proves difficult, and Vic's "in-between world" inexorably begins to fall apart. Winner of Canada's 2003 Giller Prize, this is a slightly scattered story with a questionable hero but as illuminating as behind-the-scenes history, warts and all. Recommended for larger collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/04.]—Marc Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., PA (Reviewed August 15, 2004) (Library Journal, vol 129, issue 13, p71)
  • /* Starred Review */ Born and raised in East Africa, Indian Vassanji describes in spare but resonant prose the depressing realities of post-colonial Africa in telling the story of a man whose life is blighted by the times.Having fled Kenya and now living in Canada, where he's been accused of bribery, Vikram poignantly recalls the past and his childhood home, even though as an Indian he was never fully accepted by Africans. In 1953, Vikram is an eight-year-old living contentedly with his family in a Kenyan village where his father runs a general store. Vikram, like his younger sister Deepa, is a third-generation African-Indian—their grandfather came from India to build the railroad in the late 1800s—and Kenya indeed is home. The siblings are close friends of the white Bruce children, as well as of Kikuyu Njoroge, whom Vikram's mother calls her son. But the times are not propitious for interracial harmony: the famous "winds of change" are blowing through Africa, promising an end to British rule. The Mau Mau, the notorious Kikuya freedom fighters, brutally kill the entire Bruce family, and when Njoroge's grandfather is arrested as a suspect, Njoroge has to go away to school. With Independence, the Lalls move to Nairobi, where, initially, they prosper. Like Njoroge, whom he meets up with again, Vikram admires President Kenyatta, but their early optimism sours as politicians demand bribes and Indians are increasingly threatened by violence unless they hand over their businesses. Njoroge, in love with Deepa, who loves him in return even though her family insists she marry an Indian, is soon involved in dangerous opposition politics. Though Vikram flourishes, it's at a price—friends are murdered, families emigrate, and no one can be trusted. Yet the cost of exile is even higher. His past thus revisited, Vikram decides now to clear his name, even if so doing endangers his life. A bleak but affecting portrait of loss by a master writer (Amerika, 2001, etc.) come fully into his own. (N.B.: This is Vassanji's fifth novel and second Giller Prize winner.) (Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2004)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
122126
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Vassanji, M. G
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • East Indians
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Friendship
  • Kenya
Label
The in-between world of Vikram Lall, M.G. Vassanji
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
492832
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First U.S. edition.
Extent
369 pages
Isbn
9781400042166
Lccn
2004048967
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9781400042166
  • (Sirsi) ADP-2616
Label
The in-between world of Vikram Lall, M.G. Vassanji
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
492832
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First U.S. edition.
Extent
369 pages
Isbn
9781400042166
Lccn
2004048967
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9781400042166
  • (Sirsi) ADP-2616

Library Locations

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      30.2713021 -97.7460168
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