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Biography & Autobiography Historical

Extraordinary Canadians: Mordecai Richler

A Penguin Lives Biography

by (author) M.G. Vassanji

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Sep 2012
Historical, General, Literary
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2012
    List Price

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Both Mordecai Richler and M.G. Vassanji are award-winning novelists who regarded themselves as outsiders in their respective societies—one a Jew in Quebec, the other an Indian in Africa who emigrated to Canada. Their experiences were vastly different, but their stance as observer afforded each an acute perspective. Vassanji digs deep into Richler’s Montreal childhood and family history, charting his career from a novice abroad to his rise as one of Canada’s great satirical writers. Richler’s novels—reflecting his double heritage—can be wildly funny, yet they retain a sense of the complex, the historic, and the tragic. As well, he was a prolific and humorous essayist, holding up a mirror to the foibles of our times. Displaying his usual narrative flair, Vassanji explores the life and artistic quest of the Montreal novelist who gave us such unforgettable characters as Duddy Kravitz, Solomon Gursky, and Barney Panofsky—extraordinary Canadians all.

About the author

M.G. Vassanji was born in Kenya and raised in Tanzania. He attended university in the United States, where he trained as a nuclear physicist, before coming to Canada in 1978. Vassanji is the author of six novels and two collections of short stories. His work has appeared in various countries and several languages, and he has twice won the Giller Prize. His most recent novel, The Assassin’s Song, was shortlisted for both the Giller Prize and the Governor-General’s Award. He is a member of the Order of Canada and lives in Toronto.

M.G. Vassanji's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Respectful yet probing, [Vassanji] creates a solid and intriguing biography of one of the most private yet profound writers of the Canadian scene.” —The Globe and Mail

“Sympathetic and distinguished.” —Winnipeg Free Press

“Elegantly compact. . . . Vassanji deliberately reads against the grain of the well-known Richlerian 'gruff caricature,' treating anecdotes with caution, aware that Richler’s memorializers might 'use memory' to embellish, reinvent, settle scores.” —Canadian Literature

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