Where the Air Is Sweet
"Engrossing, shocking, beautiful."
- The Globe and Mail
"Beautifully written and deeply emotional." - National Post
"A perfect summer read."
- Toronto Star
A powerful, vivid story of a family’s search for home and belonging, set against a brutal dictatorship and the promise of refuge in Canada.
Raju is drawn to Uganda by the desire for a better life. Over two generations, Raju and his family carve a niche for themselves and form a deep connection to the land in the midst of a racially stratified colonial and post-colonial society.
Their world is thrown into upheaval when brutal dictator Idi Amin comes to power. The family struggles to carry on until, in 1972, Amin expels 80,000 South Asians from the country. Raju, his children and their children have ninety days to flee as Uganda descends into unimaginable chaos and murder. Forced out, toward the shores of England and Canada, the family must find a place to land and a way to start again, even while the ties of Africa draw them back.
Where the Air Is Sweet is a vivid, engrossing portrait of a family caught up in the larger forces of world affairs. Despite tragedy and displacement, their story is one of hope and resilience, and finally, homecoming.
From HarperCollins Canada
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TASNEEM JAMAL was born in Mbarara, Uganda, and immigrated to Canada with her family in 1975. Her debut novel Where the Air Is Sweet was published to critical acclaim in 2014. That same year she was named one of 12 rising CanLit stars on CBC's annual list of Writers to Watch. Her writing has appeared in Chatelaine, Saturday Night magazine, and the Literary Review of Canada. She worked as a news editor at The Globe and Mail and before that as a copy editor at Saturday Night magazine. She is currently an editor at The New Quarterly literary magazine. When not working on her writing, she serves as Communications Officer for Project Ploughshares, a Waterloo-based peace research institute.
essays and interviews
This is a wide-ranging interview about my experience and process writing Where the Air Is Sweet, and being a writer living and working in the Grand River Watershed. (Episode Six: April 2021)
Hagar the Relatable: Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel
In this essay I describe the experience of re-reading the Canlit classic for the the 50th anniversary issue (#103, Fall 2018) of Canadian Notes & Queries
On the Question of Diversity in Publishing: We Offer Some Answers
This is a three-way written conversation (borne out of a panel discussion) I had with the writers Ayelet Tsabari and Jael Richardson in issue #145 (Winter 2018) of The New Quarterly
Mummy, Am I white? What I've learned from raising bi-racial children
This personal essay was published in Chatelaine.
She ditched it all to follow her dreams
I spoke with Piya Chattopadhyay about unintended consequences on CBC Radio's Out in the Open
Three novelists humanize the refugee experience in powerful fiction
An interview, along with the novelists Lawrence Hill and Kim Thuy, on CBC Radio's The Current.
We packed up the kids and moved to Tanzania: Then things fell apart
This personal essay in Chatelaine describes what happened when my husband and I followed our dreams
When I was three, the same age as Alan Kurdi, I became a refugee
This essay about the Syrian refugee crisis was published on Huffpost.
Tasneem Jamal: Uganda's Exiled Asians
This is a television interview on TVO's The Agenda about the events described in Where the Air Is Sweet
What Bapa taught me about starting over in a new country
This personal essay, published in The Globe and Mail, describes my arrival in Canada through an image of my grandfather
Representation: Hilary McMahon
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