Terrorism focus of Vertigo session

Kathy Para and Renee Sarojini Saklikar open the spring season of the Vertigo Voices reading series Friday.

Two B.C. Book Prize nominees, Kathy Para and Renee Sarojini Saklikar, open the spring season of the Vertigo Voices reading series Friday.

The work of both writers deal with how acts of terrorism effect not only individuals and families, they mark our collective psyche as well.

Saklikar’s aunt and uncle were two of the passengers on Air India 182, which departed out of Montreal on June 23, 1985 and exploded over the Atlantic, killing all 329 passengers on board, including 268 Canadians, making it the largest mass murder in Canadian history. It was followed by one of the longest and most expensive criminal trials, after which the accused were acquitted.

Saklikar’s collection, the children of air india, offers a first-hand account of not only how this tragic event effected her family directly, but how the ripples of the ensuing investigation and trial have reverberated throughout our public, shared psyche.

When asked her thoughts on why some Canadians have not fully acknowledged what Canada lost when these people were murdered on Air India Flight 182, Saklikar responded, “I don’t have an answer. It’s not easy. The simple, quick, knee-jerk answer is ‘Oh, it’s racism.’ I think it’s more than that – that’s woven into it, that’s woven into everything.”

Saklikar’s the children of air india is part of thecanadaproject, a life-long poem chronicle about her life from India to Canada, from coast to coast.

The children of air india has just been nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Prize, the B.C. Book Prize for poetry.

Saklikar is joined by fellow B.C. Book Award nominee, Kathy Para, who grew up in Lumby.

Para’s first novel, Lucky, won the Great B.C. Novel Search in 2013 and has just been nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.

Lucky is a novel set in the Middle East and Canada and tells the story of a freelance war photojournalist with an ambition to photograph an infamous terrorist.

She descends into Fallujah, Iraq in the fall of 2004 to capture images of violence and atrocity. When she and her colleagues are kidnapped and held by mujahideen, the price of her survival becomes too much to bear.

Once free and home in Vancouver she continues to suffer the effects of post traumatic stress until she finally confronts the trauma.

Lucky explores the ideas of war as news entertainment for the west and the price paid by journalists and the moral dilemmas of love and war.

To hear both writers read and take part in an open discussion, join Para and Saklikar at the Vertigo Voices reading Friday.

Doors open at 7 p.m. and readings begin at 7:30 p.m. at Gallery Vertigo at 3001 31st St. #1 upstairs. All are welcome to attend. For more information, call 250-503-2297.