Posted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 4:45 am Post subject: Vassanji - a leading light in Canadian literature
M G Vassanji, C.M.
Member of the Order of Canada
Since making a dramatic career change in the late 1980s, M G Vassanji has become a leading light in Canadian literature. A nuclear physicist who was born in Kenya and raised in Tanzania, he came to Canada in 1978 and began writing full time in 1989, after the publication of his first novel, the award-winning The Gunny Sack. He hasn't looked back. He is the first person to have won the Giller Prize twice, for The Book of Secrets and The In-Between Life of Vikram Lall. As well, he promotes other writers, particularly those of different cultures, as founding editor of a small publishing company and a literary review.
Fonds/Collection Number: F0485
Title: M.G. Vassanji fonds
Extent: 2.7 m of textual records
Administrative History: Moyez G. Vassanji (1950-), author and nuclear physicist, was born on 30 May 1950 in Nairobi, Kenya and raised in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He began his studies at the University of Nairobi but left in 1970 to continue at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned a scholarship in nuclear physics. Vassanji later completed a Ph.D. in nuclear physics at the University of Pennsylvania. He immigrated to Canada in 1978 to work at the Chalk River atomic power station in Ontario. Vassanji moved to Toronto in 1980 to work at the University of Toronto as a research associate and lecturer in nuclear physics, and began writing shortly thereafter. He published his first novel, "The gunny sack," in 1989, which was awarded the 1990 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first novel (Africa). That year, he and his wife, Nurjehan Aziz, founded "The Toronto South Asian review," a journal devoted to South Asian Canadian writers. It was renamed "The Toronto review of contemporary writing abroad" in 1993 to reflect the wider community of immigrant writers in Canada. Vassanji gave up his work as a nuclear physicist in 1989 to turn his attention to writing full time. He is the author of four other novels: "No new land" (1991), "The book of secrets" (1994), "Amriika" (1999), "The in-between world of Vikram Lall" (2003), and "The assassin's song" (2007). He is also the author of two collections of short stories -- "Uhuru Street" (1992) and "When she was queen" (2005) -- as well as the memoir, "A place within : rediscovering India" (2008), and a biography of Mordecai Richler published by Penguin Canada in 2009 as part of its Exceptional Canadians Series. He is the first repeat winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, winning in its inaugural year for "The book of secrets" and later for "The in-between world of Vikram Lall," and was shortlisted for the prize for "The assassin's song." Vassanji was made a Member of the Order of Canada in October 2004 for his contributions to writing and the arts, and an honorary Doctor of Letters by York University in June 2005. "The in-between world of M.G. Vassanji," a television documentary about his life, was first broadcast in 2006.
Scope and Content:
Fonds consists of research material, notes, drafts, and edited manuscripts of his novels "The gunny sack," "No new land," "The book of secrets," "Amriika," and "The in-between world of Vikram Lall," as well as the short story collection "Uhuru Street." It also contains examples of his early writing in the form of unpublished drafts of poems and draft fragments of stories. It includes correspondence with publishers, copies of articles related to his work and publicity material related to his writing and to awards associated with it. The fonds contains material that documents his academic and professional work as a nuclear physicist including course outlines, notes, essays, and offprints of articles authored or co-authored by Vassanji. Records donated in 2008 include: draft scripts for an unfinished television project, "The Abdullah quartet"; correspondence, research notes and manuscripts for his introduction to the Penguin edition of Robertson Davies' The Deptford Trilogy; manuscripts and page proofs for "When she was queen" and "The assassin's song"; research material on politics, religion, violence, and society in India from historical and contemporary perspectives, as well as arrangements for Vassanji's visits to India; the manuscript for "A place within : rediscovering India"; correspondence regarding his work as a teacher of writing; and research and drafts of Vassanji's article on "Why this sudden interest in Kenya?" that appeared in the 9 January 2008 issue of Maclean's. Records donated in 2011 include: files relating to Vassanji's work with the "Toronto South Asian review"; an interview with author and publisher Reshard Gool; typescript and proof pages for "A Meeting of streams : South Asian Canadian literature," edited by Vassanji in 1985; annotated manuscripts and proof pages for "The Assassin's song"; research files and annotated manuscripts for "Mordecai Richler"; annotated manuscripts for a forthcoming novel tentatively titled "The Outcast"; and the text of an address delivered to a conference on interdisciplinarity and diversity held at McGill University in 2010.
Author Moyez Vasanji’s A PLACE WITHIN is in top 40 of Canada Reads 2012
Moyez Vasanji’s A PLACE WITHIN has been listed in the top 40 of Canada Reads 2012 program of the CBC. A final list of the top 10 will be drawn up by popular vote. The panelists will choose which book they’ll defend in the February debates from the 10 books with the most votes. Please vote for it! The poll closes at midnight, ET on Sunday, October 30.
M.G. Vasanji to present at The Vancouver Writer's Fest
M.G. Vassanji is the author of six novels, two collections of short stories and two works of nonfiction. He has won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for both The Book of Secrets and The In-Between World of Vikram Lall, and the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction for A Place Within: Rediscovering India. His novel The Assassin’s Song was shortlisted for both the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award. His new book is The Magic of Saida.
The in-between world of renowned writer MG Vassanji
Both novelist and non-fiction writer, a person of Indian origin who feels at home on three continents, MG Vassanji, 65, prides himself on his contradictions. These have served him well in his writing, which has won him numerous awards, including a regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for his first novel The Gunny Sack (1989). In novels like The In-Between World of Vikram Lall (2003), Amrika (1999) and The Magic of Saida (2012), Indian characters from East Africa find themselves pulled between the surface attractions of the contemporary West and the exigencies of their ancestral memory.
His last book, And Home was Kariakoo: A Memoir of East Africa (2014), is at one level a recounting of his own childhood in Tanzania (where he was raised); it is also a meditation on the forces of history and culture that shape a person’s life. Yet, Vassanji is never abstract. From the aroma of freshly made mandazi (African doughnut) to the lilting rhythm of Swahili greetings, he delivers the full palette of sensory details that brings his stories to life.
Two-time Giller Prize winner M.G. Vassanji returns with a powerful new novel about grief and second chances, tradition and rebellion, set in vibrant present-day Delhi.
Munir Khan, a recent widower from Toronto, on a whim decides to visit Delhi, the city of his forbears. Born in Kenya, he has lost all family connections, and has never visited India before.
While sitting in the bar of the Delhi Recreational Club where he's staying, an attractive woman joins his table to await her husband. A sparring match ensues. The two are from different worlds: Munir is a westernized agnostic of Muslim origin; Mohini, a modern Hindu woman. Utterly witty and charming, she's… Keep Reading
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