The Book of Secrets

Publisher: Emblem Editions

The Book of Secrets is a spellbinding novel of generations and the sweep of history that begins in 1988 in Dar es Salaam, when the 1913 diary of a British colonial officer is found in a shopkeeper's back room. The diary enflames the curiosity of a retired schoolteacher, Pius Fernandes, whose obsession with the stories it contains gradually connects the past with the present. Inhabiting the story is a memorable cast of characters, part of an Asian community in East Africa, whose lives and fates we follow over the course of seven decades. Rich in detail and description, M. G. Vassanji's award-winning novel magnificently conjures setting and the realm of eras past as it explores the state of living in exile from one's home and from oneself.


   • "Part generational history, part detective story, part social chronicle, the novel is a 'living tapestry to join the past to the present.'" -- Giller Prize jury citation, Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler, and David Staines

   • "Fact and fiction are melded into a compelling narrative which transcends reality and nourishes both mind and spirit. . . . [Vassanji] captures both the minute ripples of individual human motivations and the broad sweep of that grim machine we call history." -- Ottawa Citizen

   • "Vassanji captures a wide and authentic perspective that ranks with V. S. Naipaul and Graham Greene. -- The Times

   • "A vivid portrait of time and place." -- Montreal Gazette

   • "A love affair with the exquisite, tender, and possibly great novel." -- The New Yorker