Padma Viswanathan’s “The Ever After of Ashwin Rao”

Reading colleague Padma Viswanathan’s Ever After at first reminded me of Sonali Deraniyagala’s heart wrenching book Wave, about the 2004 Sri Lankan tsunami and the way unexpected tragedy impacts a family. But sudden loss is not the same. A wave begins somewhere, deep in the ocean, gaining momentum until it becomes a monstrous, destructive force, but then it recedes, and the survivors are left to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. The 1985 act of terror that blew up Air India Flight 182, too began somewhere, gaining momentum, resulting in the death of 329 people, but it only grows bigger from there, bigger and bigger, seemingly without end. An act of God is different than an act of terror. Viswanathan take us to the point of origin, she asks the question, “How does terror begin?” There is pain, stripped of any mercy, but there are moments of grace too. Neither hatred nor justice can bring back loved ones, Viswanathan shows us, but her novel is a complex psychological read of how those who are left behind survive.


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