Vassanji, M.G.

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Vassanji, M.G.

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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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2014/07/22 Last updated
2018/11/08 KCP. Added VIAF.
2023/11/03 K. Kerr. Updated biographical sketch.


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