New Internationalist

The In-Between World of Vikram Lall

November 2004

MG Vassanji’s expansive family saga centres on the figure of Vikram Lall, born in Kenya of Indian parents and destined to be reviled as ‘one of Africa’s most corrupt men’. In his childhood, Lall witnesses the rise of the Mau Mau and the end of British colonial rule in Kenya. His family observes events from an uneasy vantage point: forced to leave India at Partition, they are viewed as neither African nor British, inhabiting an ‘in-between world’.

At Independence, Vikram obtains a job with the Kenyan Railways and his diligence means that he swiftly rises through the ranks, to the point where he has the trust of the all-powerful Father of the Nation, Jomo Kenyatta. As a fixer of rare talent, Vikram is gradually drawn into a web of official larceny.

Vikram tells his tale in flashbacks from exile in Canada, where he was forced to flee by anti-corruption investigations and death threats. He comes to realize that, as an ordinary man trying (and failing) to do good, the two halves of his life mirror one another. His childhood attempts to comprehend the bloodshed of the Mau Mau uprising illustrate the insidious ways in which the iniquities of the adult world invade the innocence of the child. Likewise, the adult Vikram sees the hopes and dreams of freedom gradually undermined by a self-serving and greedy élite.

The In-Between World of Vikram Lall is a sensitive and engaging epic which successfully melds elements of politics and family chronicle while querying the role of the individual in determining the tides of history.

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 373 This column was published in the November 2004 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Never miss another story! Get our FREE fortnightly eNews

Comments on The In-Between World of Vikram Lall

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

The In-Between World of Vikram Lall Fact File
Product information by MG Vassanji
Star rating5
Publisher Canongate
Product number ISBN 1 84195 538 8
Product link

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Books

All Books

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 373

New Internationalist Magazine issue 373
Issue 373

More articles from this issue

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.