Saturday, March 21, 2009

MG Vassanji - A Place Within: Rediscovering India- Review

Zee's Notes: MG Vassanji has written more than 10 novels and won numerous literary awards for his work. In life, if we can somehow hook up to waking up every morning and doing what we love to do then it probably is the closest thing to it being heaven on earth. Imagine that ! - getting paid to do what you are the most passionate about and in MG Vassanji's world it is to write and indeed to write well.

So the story is that Allah in his infinite wisdom has given each one of us a unique gift of what we can do in this world. The lucky ones 'get it' early in their life and achieve that nirvana of wanting to jump out of bed every morning and many continue to live each day hoping to have a better tomorrow and I've learnt that hope is not a good strategy to hang your hat on if you want that 'zest' for living. Hope is waiting for your dreams to fall into your lap - not good ! Faith, however, is a different animal in that it's there residing in our inner self waiting to be called to do it's magic. It is that critical ingredient for you to realize that you are destined and moreso capable of achieving great things in life. Anyway i'm getting ahead of myself here as this post is to review the book.

A Place Within - MG Vassanji

What I love about MG Vassanji's work is that all his work relates to something within himself and who he is. His earlier novels took him back to his birthplace in Africa and the stories revolved around his childhood and subsequent experiences of being an immigrant in a new land - Canada - through his various characters. Also noted was that he hardly wrote of his faith and indeed he has spoken out on his inability to accept religous dogma. For someone like me who's life experience mirrors his characters in many ways I found it hard to put down any of his novels as they flooded my imagination of the years that have passed and passed so quickly. In A Place Within he goes back to the land of his ancestors and connects to the history not so much of his family but, to me, to his people. An interesting anecdote that I caught was that whenever he went to the villages and towns of his ancestors the first place he was directed to was the Ismaili Jamatkhana - there he would find a snippet of an answer of his search. Vassanji takes us into the main cities and to the villages and we get a sense of this amazing country which now is seen as one of the two, China being the main one, major drivers of ecenomic growth in the century ahead. In understanding the dynamic that is occuring in India now, one wonders how the heck can such progress be achieved in the midst of challenges such as abject poverty, communalism, corruption and the list goes on. But at the end of the day India works and it is moving at a pace where it may just be the number two economy in the universe once it sorts out it's problems though it may take a generation or two.

So yes if you get a chance MG Vassanji's A Place Within is a great read and be careful if may be a while before you can put it down.

MG Vassanji was recently in India to promote his book - here are some news items:

Home Pages
Mumbai Newsline - ‎Mar 22, 2009‎
If MG Vassanji has to search for his past, his own provenance, he would need to sit beside an unrolled map and then trace backward - from Canada where he ...

'Anything is possible in India' Daily News & Analysis

"India hits you like a tidal wave"
Financial Express - ‎Mar 21, 2009‎
But for MG Vassanji, it has taken him over 15 years and 10 visits to India to come up with a book. “I had thought I could be like Naipaul, come to India and ...


MG Vassanji turns to India in book
Spicezee - ‎Mar 13, 2009‎
New Delhi, Mar 13: Internationally renowned writer and two-time winner of the prestigious Giller Prize, MG Vassanji, turns his eyes towards India with new ...

Always the writer in exile - ‎Mar 12, 2009‎
MG Vassanji, one of Canada’s pre-eminent novelists, experienced his first moment of kinship with the late, great Mordecai Richler at a writer’s festival in ...

Calcutta Telegraph

Calcutta Telegraph - ‎Mar 20, 2009‎
In this category, my latest addition is MG Vassanji. I first read his novel, The Gunny Sack, and was charmed by it. Next, I read his latest novel, ...

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