M G Vassanji (www.mgvassanji.com) was born in Kenya and raised in Tanzania. Before going 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. His contributions there he considers modest, in algebraic models and high spin states. In 1996, Vassanji was made a fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla, where he visited again in 2010 as visiting professor.
If pressed, Vassanji considers himself African Asian Canadian; attempts to pigeonhole him along communal or other lines, however, he considers narrow-minded and malicious.
His work has appeared in various countries and several languages. He is winner of the Giller Prize (1994, 2003) for best novel in Canada; the Governor General's Prize (2009) for best work of nonfiction; the Harbourfront Festival Prize; the Commonwealth First Book Prize (Africa, 1990); and the Bressani Prize. The Assassin's Song was also shortlisted for India's Crossword Prize. He is a member of the Order of Canada.
He lives in Toronto, and visits East Africa and India often.
His most recent book is NOSTALGIA (2016), a novel set in Toronto in the indeterminate future.