Books: Where the Air Is Sweet

Wendy Stocker News

Published in The Ploughshares Monitor Volume 35 Issue 1 Spring 2014

where-the-air-is-sweetcoverlA luminous first novel by Ploughshares Communications and Fundraising Officer Tasneem Jamal, Where the Air Is Sweet tells the story of three generations of a South Asian family living in Uganda. Between 1921 and the early 1970s the family grows and prospers, until the policies of Ugandan President Idi Amin force them, with 80,000 other South Asians, to leave.

As we learn to care for these characters, who came from British India seeking a better life, we share the fears and anxieties that grow with Amin’s increasingly erratic and mad behaviour. Among the many things that author Jamal teaches us in this book is the wrenching, deadening pain of the persecuted and the exiled:

The realization of her own powerlessness, of her family’s impotence descends slowly on Mumtaz. For her, acceptance does not come in a moment, in a second, or a few seconds. The notion of being thrown out, of being discarded, penetrates little by little, like drops of water filling a bowl, until one day it is full, overflowing, seeping into every crevice of her life. A fact, simple and familiar.

Where the Air Is Sweet goes on sale June 3 and can be pre-ordered anywhere books are sold.

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