Editors Chandrima Chakraborty, Amber Dean and Angela Failler launched their new collection, Remembering Air India: The Art of Public Mourning in Toronto on September 14th and in Hamilton on September 15th, 2017.
Anjula Gogia of Another Story Bookshop of Toronto introduced the presenters: contributors Elan Marchinko (York University) and Renee Sarojini Saklikar (Surrey Poet Laureate). There were also video clips from Lata Pada’s dance performance “Revealed By Fire,” a stunning image of which is featured on the book’s cover. The Hamilton event, introduced by Kerry Cranston-Reimer of Bryan Prince Bookseller also included these same contributors to the book, with an introduction by Rob Alexander, who lost his father in the bombing of Air India Flight 182, and Khursheed Ahmed, of the South Asian Heritage Association of Hamilton and Region.
The Editors introduced the book and the speakers, and were delighted by the huge show of interest in the book. They were also deeply honoured to have a number of family members and friends who lost loved ones aboard Flight 182 in attendance. “As editors of Remembering Air India we would like to begin by acknowledging those who lost their lives to the Air India bombings of 1985, and the family members, friends and loved ones who continue to mourn their loss,” Chandrima Chakraborty said in her opening remarks. “This book is a collaborative attempt to share in that mourning, by remembering this little-known or hazily remembered event in Canadian public memory.”
Both of these launches also aimed to give audiences a sampling of the book’s unique combination of creative and critical/scholarly work. ”Remembering Air India is somewhat unique, as scholarly books go,” co-editor Amber Dean explained in her opening remarks, “because it includes reprints of the creative works that the scholars in the book write about.” The book features fiction by Padma Viswanathan and Bharati Mukherjee, poetry by Uma Parameswaran and Renee Saklikar, paintings by Deon Venter, and photographs and artist’s statements from a film by Eisha Marjara and a dance performance by Lata Pada, alongside a critical introduction and essays by Angela Failler, Amber Dean, Maya Seshia, Cassel Busse, Elan Marchinko and Chandrima Chakraborty. The book also reprints the text of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2010 apology to the Air India families and Dr. Sherene Razack’s expert testimony given at the Air India Public Inquiry, and includes short, candid commentaries by Rita Dhamoon, Sherene Razack, Karen Sharma, Teresa Hubel, and Suvir Kaul.
The co-editors gratefully acknowledge the support and sponsorship of the Women’s and Gender Studies Institute (University of Toronto), the Department of English and Cultural Studies and the Graduate Program in Gender Studies and Feminist Research (McMaster University), Another Story Bookshop (Toronto) and Bryan Prince Bookseller (Hamilton), the South Asian Heritage Association of Hamilton and Region, along with the University of Alberta Press and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.