It is good to have as a guardian a former student, if one allows to slip by the occasional glimmers of contempt that show themselves in the gracelessness of a joke, the rudeness of unexpected familiarity, and gives due recongnition to the genuine kindness and respect that are also there.
- from M. G. Vassanji's The Book of Secrets
This book is many stories woven into one. It tells of the life of an Indian intellectual living in gentile poverty in present day Tanzania; an English governor many years before independence; a boy -- possibly his illegitimate offspring -- growing up as an orphan, and several other stories as well. It is a fascinating tale of clashing cultures, in which people are at times able to transcend their origins, and at times hopelessly trapped by them.
It's not a thriller, and requires a little effort (though not a lot) to read. But it's a top notch story, that has generally been extremely well received. Read it and you'll see why.
I give it ***½ (out of ****).