M. G. Vassanji, Author . Knopf $25 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4216-6

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)

Reviewed on: 07/26/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 248 pages - 978-0-307-42874-5
Hardcover - 405 pages - 978-0-385-65990-1
Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-307-37192-8
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-84767-684-9
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-385-65991-8
Paperback - 369 pages - 978-1-4000-7656-7
Paperback - 439 pages - 978-1-84195-606-0
Show other formats
Discover what to read next