Our Blog

photo7I had a the honour of being a part of the launch at Carleton University in Ottawa yesterday of the Uganda Collection — an archive of over 1,000 newspaper clippings, two video recordings, and a personal memoir that documents the expulsion of South Asians from Uganda in 1972.

This is a magnificent collection (now digitized and therefore preserved) of a very important event in Canadian history.

Senator Mobina Jaffer, herself a Ugandan Asian expelled in 1972, spoke at the event, as did Michael Molloy, president of the Canadian Immigration Historical Society and an immigration officer in Kampala at the time of the expulsion. I was thrilled to participate by doing a reading.

The collection includes this now infamous ad  the Leiceseter town council placed  in the Uganda Argus in 1972 (and which was referenced in Where the Air Is Sweet).



My agent Dean Cooke and I.

After last night’s Toronto launch at the Dora Keogh pub on the Danforth, Where the Air Is Sweet is officially launched.

Launches are not what they used to be. Before the internet and social media, a book used to be launched by means of an event — much as a young lady was presented at court, I imagine? (Not the best comparison, I know; but I love Downtown Abbey)

Nowadays, a launch is  simply a celebration for the author. It doesn’t really serve a purpose as far as the book is concerned.

But for me it was essential. For me, the launch was a ritual — as important as a wedding or funeral — in that it marked a significant transition. And in this sense it was like a presentation at court, which  would mark a girl’s transition into womanhood and her entry into society at large.

For  many years this book was a deeply personal experience. It became less personal when I acquired an agent and then a publisher. But even then it was malleable, fluid, in progress, in many ways abstract, becoming. Now it’s finished, solid. Many, many copies have been printed. And it’s out there, in the public.

And, so, it was important for me to mark that shift, from evolving and personal to completed and public. I’ve already documented the big, fun bash we held in Waterloo here.


Editor Jane Warren and I.

The Toronto affair was smaller, quieter, but people who were a huge part of bringing the book to its final form and into the public were there — my agent, Dean Cooke, my editors Jane Warren and Iris Tupholme ( who is also the publisher and editor-in-chief of HarperCollins Canada), my publicist Lauren Morocco. Many former media and publishing colleagues (who have become dear friends) were in attendance  as well. They were all a part of my growing up (career-wise) and therefore a part of bringing my book into reality.

It was a big day, a big week, and I’m grateful to everyone who was a part of it.


Photo: Kris Culp

It’s been a busy few days and I’m finally sitting down to write about the bash we had on Saturday night. I could not have  imagined a better event to kick off the public life of Where the Air Is Sweet. We had plenty of books, drinks and munchies on hand and even a fabulous DJ (big thanks to Doug of Sound Dynamix)!

The venue


Photo: Geoff Grenville


Photo: Catherine Unrau Woelk

The Button Factory (25 Regina Street South in Waterloo) offered a beautiful, bright space with massive windows and high ceilings. The Button Factory is the home of the Waterloo Community Arts Centre (which is a non-profit, volunteer-run, charitable organization that exists to promote all forms of art programs in the community) and so it felt right to hold the launch in such a hallowed space.








The food


Photo: Catherine Unrau Woelk

Family and friends provided tasty appetizers, including a gorgeous candy bar!


Photo: Saj Jamal












The posters

Thank you to the Canadian Immigration Historical Society for these fabulous poster boards that included 1972 newspaper clippings about the Asian expulsion from Uganda.


Photo: Saj Jamal


Photo: Geoff Grenville














The speeches

Michael Molloy, president of the Canadian Immigration Historical Society and former ambassador to Jordan, travelled from Ottawa to give a riveting speech about the efforts of Canadian immigration officials in getting Asians out of Uganda in 1972. Mike was a big part of that operation. You can view a talk he gave in 2012 about the Ugandan Immigration Movement here. After a sweet introduction from my husband (and biggest supporter) Craig Daniels, I had an opportunity to publicly thank everyone.


Photo: Catherine Unrau Woelk


Photo: Catherine Unrau Woelk


Photo: Alia Kherani















The books

Thank you to Words Worth Books of Waterloo for selling books at the event! The party became very loud but the sales continued.


Photo: Geoff Grenville


Photo: Catherine Unrau Woelk

BlogScreenShot launchdayWhat a fantastic launch! Where the Air Is Sweet reached #20 in Books on Amazon.ca today. I was hoping for a spike in sales on Day 1 and you made it happen! So thank you to all of you who are buying, posting, tweeting, emailing, telling friends.

I’m loving this ride. Let’s keep going…xo


OI wrote the first words of Where the Air Is Sweet in June 2009 sitting at a newly constructed wooden desk in this apartment (see photo) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 

While I was working on the book I came across this quote from E.L. Doctorow that helped me through some difficult times in the following years:

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Five years almost to the day I began this journey, I have arrived.

My book is released. To buy, click here. 


Get in touch with Tasneem

For book club or media requests, please get in touch with Tasneem below.


Yay! Message sent.
Error! Please validate your fields.
© Copyright Tasneem Jamal