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 he ended his active career in nuclear physics. His first novel, The Gunny Sack, won a regional Commonwealth Writers Prize and he was invited to be writer-in-residence at the University of Iowa. In 1994 his celebrated bestselling novel The Book of Secrets won the inaugural Giller Prize.
Vassanji has also received the Bressani Prize and the Order of Canada. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two sons and visits Africa and India often.
Vassanji’s other books include the acclaimed novels No New Land and Amriika, The In-Between World of Vikram Lall, which won the 2003 Giller Prize, and two collections of short stories, Uhuru Street and When She Was Queen.
Festival: 2007 (fall), 2008 (Year Round), 2009 (spring)