I liked this book, but compared with some of my Africa reads from last year (Nervous Conditions, Things Fall Apart, and Devil on the Cross), it did not move me as much as I'd hoped. There was a vibrancy in all the books I have just mentioned that was missing in this book. This book had a colder, calculated, more observational tone. The former books were written by native Africans who clearly had passion for their countries and their experiences of post-colonial life. Naipal is Trinidadian, and his character is from an Islamic Indian family that had settled in earlier generations on the East African Coast, part of a wave of colonization by Asia and Islam that preceded European control of these areas. The protagonist is of Africa, and yet not, especially as he has moved inland from his coastal country of birth into an inland bush country along the river at the heart of the continent. His perspective is colored by this identity, and he struggles with questions of how he fits in the volatile fabric of life in his small river town. This book, too, explores themes of African identity, political tyranny, and European influence in post-colonial Africa, and it leaves one feeling pretty grim. Unlike the African authors who write on these themes, Naipal cannot convey the depth of tragedy or undercurrent of profound love for a troubled homeland that produced the richer experience I had with the books mentioned above. I am still glad to have read the book and to have had insight into this other world of experience, but I have not had my world transformed in any meaningful way in the reading of this book.