This was my second read of Where the Air is Sweet which was highly recommended by a friend/colleague who is related to the author. My book club was honoured to have dinner with Jamal last night and my next post will describe our engaging evening, learning about the blend of family history/fiction and hearing about the editing and publishing process.
This amazing story was written by Jamal, a Canadian who lives in Kitchener and emigrated from Uganda in 1975. As an avid reader, it was hard to put this riveting book down. I eagerly started the book after dinner, loving the rough finish of the pages, and was finished by this morning. I hope that this is only the first of a series of novels written by Jamal, as I want to read more about the experience of the family as they make their life in Canada.
The story described, in beautiful and flowing prose, an Indian family who made Uganda their home. The patriarch of the family had moved to the African country as a young man, sending money home to his mother. As he built his business, he grew his family. It was not easy life and as the family grew, the unrest in Uganda became untenable. The novel juxtaposed the violent history of Uganda with the generations of the family, living together and caring for each other.
When the Asian family was forced out of Uganda, their tumultuous path to Canada was anything but smooth and the reader can feel the uncertainty, fear and indecision of the characters as they try and do what is best for their family. It is hard to imagine, parents forced to make such difficult decisions to make a better life for their children but this likely highlights the experience of many who immigrate to Canada.
This is an important book for all Canadians to read and highlights the strength, tenacity and hope of those leaving their home countries to make a life in Canada. This would be an excellent book to add to the high school curriculum. All Canadians should understand the determination and courage it takes to leave your home and start a new life!