Monday, July 16

Book Review: The In-Between World of Vikram Lall

Title: The In-Between World of Vikram Lall

Author: M.G. Vassanji

Pages: 400

Summary: Vikram Lall comes of age in 1950 Kenya, at the same time that the colonists struggling towards independence. Against the unsettling backdrop of Mau violence, Vic and his sister Deepa, the grandchildren of an Indian railroad worker, search for their place in a world sharply divided between Kenyans and the British. We follow a changing Africa in the fifties, to the hope of the sixties, and through the corruption and fear that came in the decades after. Hauntingly told in the voice of the now exiled Vic, The In-Between World of Vikram Lall is an acute and bittersweet novel of identity and family, of lost love and abiding friendship, and of the insidious legacy of the British Empire.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The story started off very strong, but by the middle I began to get bored with it. It didn't have the same flare that it began with. The ending made it all worth sticking with it until the end. So all in all, a good read.

I enjoyed the look at the lives off the characters and how they lived and tried to survive in Kenya. The author gave some glimpses of the country and what life was like for those who lived there during the time period. The author also did a good job at exploring some of the political issues without making the book too political of a read. Although I would have liked more detail on the different cultural aspects and history behind all of this turmoil, the way the author presented to the reader worked well, especially considering the narrator and his bias.

I'm unsure how much I liked the story jumping around from the past to the present. It didn't quite work for me. I found it disrupted the flow of the past events and sometimes the impact on them to the reader. In fact until the ending, I think most of the "present day" parts of the story could have been left out. But then the ending may not have had the wow factor if it did. I did love the ending, it may be a bit predictable to some, but I wouldn't have liked the book as much if it hadn't ended the way it did.

Overall it was a good story. It didn't have the wow factor I was looking for, but it was something new and I will definitely read the author again.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. I wasn't gripped by it, but it was a good story worth reading.

What to read next: The Book of Secrets, A Final Balance, The Sentimentalists (all fellow Giller winners)

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI, Global Reading Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge


  1. This is the exact reason that I try to never give up on a book, because when the beginning is really strong, and the middle sags, my attention wavers. Then the ending totally blows me away, and I think to myself "how could I have missed an ending like that!?!" It rarely happens that a book turns like that, but when it does, I feel extremely vindicated! Very nice review today, Jules! I am glad you stuck with it!

    1. I wish all books were like that when they don't work for from the start! This was the exception. But you are right, sometimes it is well worth sticking through until the end.