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Father Returns to Bookstore Where He First Learned English to Buy His Son’s Novel

Guy Gunaratne's dad returned to the London bookstore more than 60 years after arriving in the city as a teenage immigrant.

Twitter: Guy Gunaratne

Last week, Guy Gunaratne, a journalist and documentary filmmaker, released is his first novel, In Our Mad City. An already exciting time for new authors, the book’s debut was special to Gunaratne for another reason, and the London-based author shared the touching reason over the weekend on Twitter. His father got to buy a copy of the novel at the same bookstore where he first learned English as a new immigrant over 60 years ago.

When Guy’s father, Sam, first moved to London from Sri Lanka in the 1950s, he was a teenager who didn’t speak English. To learn the language of his new homeland, Sam would sneak into Foyles, a bookstore in London, every Saturday to practice reading English. Now, more than six decades later, Sam went back to that Foyles to buy himself a copy of his son’s critically acclaimed novel.

Guy tweeted out a photo of his father buying the book with the caption: “Sixty years ago my father was a teenager and a new immigrant in 1950s London. He used to sneak into Foyles every Saturday, sit on the floor and teach himself English. Yesterday, he returned to pick his son’s novel off the shelf. This universe is spectacular.”

It’s an incredibly heartwarming story and, unsurprisingly, the photo quickly went viral. In just three days, it’s been retweeted nearly 40,000 times and received more than 165,000 likes. Guy was touched that the photo resonated with so many people.

“It’s wonderful that it seems to have struck a chord with so many, and perhaps it’ll remind everyone to hug their fathers a little closer,” Guy told the Associated Press.