Diasporic writings are invariably concerned with exile, memory, diasporic consciousness, longing for return, alienation and search for identity. All these characteristics find unique articulation in the novels of M.G. Vassanji. Vassanji has produced five novels tracing the migration of people from South Asia in the late 19th century to East Africa, and then from Africa to North America in the 1960s and 1970s. The Gunny Sack is one of them. It deals with the story of four generations of Asians in Tanzania. Here the author has examined the theme of identity, displacement and race-relations. He also has endeavoured to retain and re-create oral histories and mythologies that have long been silenced.
The Gunny Sack celebrates the spirit of Asian pioneers who moved to East Africa in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The novelist provides an insightful look also into the culture of one particular group of Indians who were born and grew up in East Africa during the mid 20th century. Living unde…


A prestigious literary member of Indian diaspora and recipient of several literary awards, M.G. Vassanji is Canada's latest literary golden boy. Like many others, he is an Indian expatriate separated from the subcontinent by generations. As a commonwealth literary hero, he must be ranked alongside Rushdie, Vikram Seth and Nigerian legend Chinua Achebe.
M.G. Vassanji was born in Nairobi, Kenya on 30th May 1950 to Gulamhussein Vassanji and Daulatkhanu Nanji. His family was a part of community of Indians who had immigrated to Africa. As we know that emigration from India did not cease after the abolition of indenture and other systems of organised export of labour. Emigrations to East African countries namely Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania during the late 19th century present a new pattern: ‘free’ or ‘passage’ emigration. Under this pattern trader, petty contractors, artisans, bankers, clerks and professionals of India immigrated to East African countries. This is the pattern under which …