05 August, 2021

Lines That Bind

A well-knit and illuminating account of Vassanji's various visits to India over a number of years

Lines That Bind
African by birth, Canadian by citizenship, Vassanji hails from the symbiotic Gujarati Khoja Muslim community. His grandparents had left India to settle in Africa; Vassanji has grown up speaking Indian languages as well as African and European ones. A Place Within presents a well-knit and illuminating account of his various visits to India over a number of years.

Starting with a focus on history (mediated by way of travel experiences), the narrative moves to a predominance of present-day concerns, returning often to the symbiosis of Indian cultures and religions. In the process, one gets to meet some memorable characters: famous personalities like Khushwant Singh, Mulk Raj Anand, Bhisham Sahni etc, and unknown ones like a Dargah caretaker who gave up a career as a journalist.

An accomplished novelist, Vassanji brings to bear a novelist’s eye for details on a place that, having come to him in childhood songs and inherited languages, is always both outside and inside him. Faced with lines of connection (history,...

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