I just heard from Saleema and I have her permission to repost her email to me here.
Thank you again for your incredibly touching and generous idea you shared on Bella’s Bookshelves. As much as I love the idea of receiving a hand-picked book from literary folks all over Canada, I could never accept them. Not least because many of our belongings (including books!) have been saved, but also because we are now guests in somebody else’s house — we will be staying with my in-laws for the next two months.
[Steph: No worries! You can send the books to me or give them to her personally. If you send them to my address, which you'll find on my Contact page, I will personally deliver them to Montreal or ship them myself.]
[Saleema's response: Thanks so, so much ... Of course, I would never object to somebody buying my books! But honestly that is the most I could accept, and the support I have already felt from everyone is the most amazing bolstering help I could ever receive or want. Please do feel free to post my earlier email. I'm hoping to do a blog update, but I'm so exhausted, having been up for so long with just a couple of hours of snatched sleep... I'm not sure how soon it can come.]
You have no idea how much it means to me that so many people came to our aid…with offers of places to stay, food to eat, clothes to wear, and so wonderfully, books to read.
Some books have been lost to water and falling plaster, but most seemed to have been spared based on our cursory visit to the building this morning. In fact, although half of our kitchen, the bathroom, the front entryway and most of the living room have been destroyed (not by flames, but by falling plaster, fire axes, and water), our bedrooms and our hallway were spared from everything except for very heavy smoke. Many of the books were actually on bookcases in our hallway and in the half of the kitchen that was spared.
It is like a tornado has ripped through the place, with odd items here and there lying intact amidst the destruction of splintered wood and crumbling plaster.
I’m not sure how costly (or, indeed, possible) it will be to remove the smell of smoke from our large collection (and from everything else we own), but it is one we will cheerfully investigate. I am so grateful to you and all the loved ones, friends, acquaintances, and strangers who have reached out to us.
With so much thanks,
I’ve asked Saleema to keep me posted on whether or not the books that were not damaged by water or fallen plaster and such can be salvaged from the smoke damage (this can be pretty bad as to render the books unreadable), and if so, whether or not insurance will cover it. If the books can be salvaged and insurance will not cover it, perhaps we could start a campaign to help her pay for the recovery.
Alternatively, I’ve asked her if she has a wish list. Again, I’ll let you know. If not, even if she receives doubles, your copy will be better than what she has, and she could always pay it forward by donating hers. Don’t be afraid, either, of not knowing what to choose. As a former long-time bookseller, I can advise: Let your heart tell you. What book would you match her to? What book would you press into a friend’s hand and say, oh, you must read this? Whatever you send, it will be picked with concern and thoughtfulness and received with gratitude.
Thank you so much, everyone, for your generosity of spirit so far.
PS. Saleema is on Facebook, and her Twitter handle is @pinkmeringue