Fonds F0485 - M.G. Vassanji fonds

Sunrise Singing Accession 2012-049

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M.G. Vassanji fonds

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  • Textual record

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Physical description

ca. 6.76 m of textual records
3 photographs
15 posters

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Moyez G. Vassanji (1950- ), author and nuclear physicist, was born in Nairobi, Kenya and raised in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He began his studies at the University of Nairobi but left in 1970 to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 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, and soon began writing fiction. He edited "A Meeting of Streams : South Asian Canadian Literature" in 1985. His first novel, "The Gunny Sack," was published in 1989, and 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 full attention to writing. He is the author of several novels: "No New Land" (1990), "The Book of Secrets" (1993), "Amriika" (2000), "The In-between World of Vikram Lall" (2003), "The Assassin's Song" (2007), "The Magic of Saida" (2012), “Nostalgia” (2016), “A Delhi Obsession” (2019), and “Everything There Is" (2023). He is also the author of three collections of short stories - "Uhuru Street" (1990), "When She Was Queen" (2005), and “What We Are” (2021) - as well as two memoirs, "A Place Within: Rediscovering India" (2008), “And Home Was Kariakoo: A Memoir of East Africa” (2014), 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.

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Scope and content

Fonds consists of research material, notes, drafts, edited manuscripts, and proof pages for M.G. Vassanji's novels, collections of short stories, and non-fiction; scripts for an unfinished television project, "The Abdullah quartet"; unpublished drafts of poems and fragments of stories; research material on politics, religion, violence, and society in India from historical and contemporary perspectives, and arrangements for Vassanji's visits to India; drafts of his articles for Maclean's on social unrest in Africa; and drafts of his lectures on writing, cultural identities, and diversity given in Canada and Great Britain. The fonds includes professional correspondence with publishers and others, copies of articles related to his work, memorabilia about his literary career, publicity material related to his writing and to awards, and correspondence regarding his work as a teacher of writing. The fonds also contains material regarding his academic and professional activities as a nuclear physicist including course outlines, notes, essays, and offprints of articles authored or co-authored by Vassanji.

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Donated by M.G. Vassanji in 2005, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2022, and 2023.


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Restrictions on access

Access to these records requires prior written permission from M.G. Vassanji. Researchers seeking access must make written application to Dr. Vassanji through the University Archivist, outlining their research project and their purpose in consulting this fonds.

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The fonds comprises the following accessions: 2005-034, 2008-046, 2011-003, 2013-007, 2022-009, 2023-030. Further accruals may be expected.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2005/12/07 Sean Smith:. (Creation)
2005/12/07 Awaiting review by the Data Collection Archivist
2006/03/23 Sean Smith. Corrected spelling mistake in fonds level description.
2007/11/30 Dubeau. Added URL for online finding aid.
2008/12/08 Michael Moir. Updated fields to reflect 2008-046
2008/12/14 Michael Moir. Finished revisions based on 2008-046
2011/02/25 Michael Moir. Updated fields to include 2011-003
2013/12/10 Michael Moir. Revisions based on 2013-007
2014/07/22 Migrated to AtoM
2018/11/08 KCP, N. Roz. Post-migration metadata clean-up. Addition of GMD and accession numbers. Published description and generated finding aid.
2023/04/25 J. Grant. Addition of accession 2022-009.
2023/10/04 K. Kerr. Addition of accession 2023-030.

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