M. G. Vassanji was born in Kenya and raised in Tanzania.
Before coming to Canada in 1978, he attended MIT and the University
of Pennsylvania, where he specialized in theoretical nuclear
physics. From 1978-1980 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Atomic
Energy of Canada, and from 1980 to 1989 he was a research associate
at the University of Toronto. During this period he developed a
keen interest in medieval Indian literature and history, co-founded
and edited a literary magazine (The Toronto South Asian Review,
later renamed The Toronto Review of Contemporary Writing Abroad),
and began writing stories and a novel. In 1989, with the
publication of his first novel, The Gunny Sack, he was invited to
spend a season at the International Writing Program of the
University of Iowa. That year ended his active career in nuclear
physics. Vassanji is the author of six novels and two collections
of short stories. He has won the Giller Prize, twice; the
Harbourfront Festival Prize; the Commonwealth First Book Prize
(Africa); the Bressani Prize and the Order of Canada.
We met at the Blue Met
Writers Festival in Montreal to talk about his most brief biography
Richler for Penguin’s Extraordinary Canadians series.The
discussion touches on Richler’s outsider status, his struggle with
and acceptance of Jewishness, making one person’s story everyone’s
story, cities, streets and communities, mothers and fathers,
growing out of groups, humble origins, irony, great novels versus
journalism, and honesty.
Combine the human desire to know (Aristotle) with the joy found in good conversation (Montaigne) and a wish to share the results, and you have the idea behind why I host and produce The Biblio File.
"I want to learn as much as I can about 'the book,' and to communicate what I learn, to those who share my interest. The best way to do this, I figure - in addition to reading a lot - is to question and engage with authors, yes, but also book publishers, booksellers, book editors, book collectors, book makers, book scholars, book critics, book designers, book publicists, literary agents. Bibliophiles. People who, like me, love books."
The results are here for you to listen to.
Feedback or suggestions? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Nigel Beale's website at www.nigelbeale.com
Literary Destination episodes are also posted at www.literarytourist.org