Another very kind letter from a reader, republished with his permission. I wanted to post it here not only because of his very kind praise but because it includes a personal recollection of the era of the bombing, the perspective of a Canadian without a personal or ‘ethnic’ connection to the tragedy but who nonetheless felt it deeply.
Dear Ms Viswanathan,
I must admit to being a bit green with envy as I finish your staggering, deeply touching and eminently readible second novel The Ever After of Ashwin Rao. I am an itinerant writer working from time to time on a yet to be named (or completed for that matter, heehee) novel and above and beyond the subject matter, I found your writing to be so engaging and very poetic. I cannot wait to read your debut novel which I have just ordered from Indigo — do you remember them? I have no idea how long you’ve been living “on a hilltop in Arkansas”. Seems like an odd destination; are you making moonshine on the side? I digress . . . a great work that is not always easy or comfortable reading but always compelling.
Apart from my fulsome and sincere praise for your work, I believe yours is a novel of great importance to all Canadians as it touches on crucial issues in our society, such as ignorance, intolerance and indifference to the suffering of fellow citizens because: a) they weren’t born here only naturalised or – more disturbingly – b) they weren’t the “right” colour, leading to a depressingly widespread view at the time that the victims were somehow lesser Canadians. I was a 21-year-old university student (same age as Sundar in your book) living in Toronto at the time. I must admit I was confused as to what had happened and to whom at the time because we were so ill-served and ill-informed by our politicians. I do remember being appalled that our PM at the time, Lyin’ Brian Mulroney called Rajiv Ghandi to offer condolences and not to the Canadian victims. It was a terrible time that was only exacerbated by the bungled investigation by the RCMP and their lack of empathy and understanding for the victims’ families.
I congratulate you on an important work that deserves a special place in our consciousnesses.
Sincerely, Ian Hunt