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Monday, 19 May 2014

Recap: Padma Viswanathan Launches The Ever After of Ashwin Rao

On May 1st, the Librairie Drawn & Quarterly was so pleased to have Padma Viswanathan launch her book The Ever After of Ashwin Rao, in conjunction with the 2014 Blue Metropolis festival!

Geeta Nadkarni, a member of the Professional Writers’ Association of Canada and Quebec Writers’ Federation as well as a professional author, gave a lovely and thoughtful introduction. Viswanathan's first book, The Toss of a Lemon, received high praise, and Nadkarni shook things up a bit by suggesting they do a reading followed by a circle discussion!

The Ever After of Ashwin Rao revolves around families who lost loved ones in the 1985 Air India bombing. The book explores post 9/11 Canada, and the violent politics instilled in North American culture. Padma reads a section in which one of the characters undergoes a crisis of faith. He gets into his car, “as North Americans do, and drives.” She also sang a mantra, acapella, before the group joined up for the circle discussion.

Padma was asked about her writing methods. Did she write a certain amount every day? Was she consistent? She responded that she wished she could write poetry, since you can get a draft out in one sitting. With children, too, it made consistent writing schedules difficult.

Regarding the controversial subject matter, Padma said that all the objective verifiable facts were heavily researched and clear, but that she was trying to get below that to the sentiment that would be underneath the surface. She was not afraid of being disputed on some of the smaller elements.

Her inspirations for the "within and without narrator" of Ashwin Rao came less from The Great Gatsby and more from contemporary titles such as The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Once again, thanks to Padma, Geeta, the Blue Met, and everyone who came out!

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