After the attack
When Air India Flight 182 left Toronto on June 23, 1985, and exploded over the Atlantic Ocean, the bomb on board destroyed more lives than just those of the 329 passengers on the plane.
In her novel The Ever After of Ashwin Rao, Padma Viswanathan explores the aftermath of the disaster nearly 20 years later. The story is told from the perspective of Ashwin Rao, an Indian psychologist who returns to Canada for the trial of the two men accused of the bombing.
Unable to come to terms with his own emotions over the deaths of his sister and beloved niece and nephew, Ashwin embarks on a mission to chronicle the grief of the other passengers’ surviving friends and family. When one family in particular embraces Ashwin, sharing their private heartbreak in the face of public tragedy, he gains insight into the emptiness that has overtaken his own life. Finally, Ashwin is able to open himself up to the possibility of forgiveness and salvation. Viswanathan tackles the story with great empathy and a journalist’s attention to detail, exploring the civil unrest in India at the time of the bombing and the conflict between Sikhs and Hindus that became the backdrop for the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history. This is a provocative and compelling exploration of the brutality of political violence and the effect it has on those left behind. — Sydney Loney