Why Ven Begamudré's memoir about his family's history is a mix of poetry, fiction, photos & journal entries

Extended Families: A Memoir of India is a nominee for a 2018 Saskatchewan Book Award for Regina Public Library Book of the Year.
Extended Families traces the history of both sides of Ven Begamudré's family. (Don Hall/Cocteau Books)
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Ven Begamudré was born in India and now divides his time between Regina, Sask. and Bali. His memoir Extended Families: A Memoir of India, weaves together the story of his family, on both sides, through poetry, journal entries, fiction and more. It is a nominee for a 2018 Saskatchewan Book Award for Regina Public Library Book of the Year. 

A nonlinear journey

"At the heart of Extended Families are journal entries which I made during my first trip back to India when I was 21. On top of the journal entries, I layered memoirs about people in my family, retellings of Hindu myths, short fiction, poetry and old family photographs. I wanted to imitate the way that people reconstruct their family histories. They tend not to reconstruct them in a linear fashion — one person will tell you one thing and others will tell you another thing."

Adapting stories

"When we tell stories about our families, depending on who we're talking to, we tell them in different ways. We might tell one person the long, involved version of the story; we might tell another person a very short version. It's essentially the same story, but it sounds completely different because of the way in which we're telling them."

Ven Begamudré's comments have been edited and condensed.