Globe & Mail Review - Extended Families

Reviewed by: Jade Colbert

"There are many ironies in writing fiction that is based on family stories. … Spinning tales makes it difficult to separate what we hear from what we later invent because we can't bear gaps." In 1977, Ven Begamudré, then 21, returned to India, home of his extended family and the country he left at the age of 6. His return coincided with that of his mother and father, although his parents (divorced) arrived separate from each other and Ven remained in fluctuating estrangement from both for the trip. He returned in pursuit of identity (to answer: Was he Indian? or Canadian?), but what he found in India was the opposite of belonging or self. Instead, his journal entries from this trip reveal alienation, dispersal, self-annihilation – what a young man with ambitions to become a writer might deem unbearable "gaps." But it is exactly these gaps – and the young writer's attempt to bridge them in fiction (reproduced here) – that makes this material, returned to in 1991, so interesting (although sometimes repetitive). Not a memoir of identity but of reinvention.

 

This review originally appeared in The Globe & Mail on September 29, 2017

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