The Next Chapter

How losing a parent inspired Gurjinder Basran's latest novel

The B.C. author reflects on writing her sophomore novel, Someone You Love is Gone, which is about a young woman who loses her mother.
Gurjinder Basran's latest novel is Someone You Love Is Gone. (Karolina Turek/Penguin Random House)

Every family has its secrets. Especially the one imagined by Gurjinder Basran, author of the 2011 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize-winning novel Everything Was Good-Bye. In her latest book, Someone You Love is Gone, the death of her mother inspired the protagonist to piece together the events that brought so much pain to all the members of her family, and these events span continents and generations.

This interview originally aired on Nov. 6, 2017.

What you gain by writing about loss

"My mother had been ill when I started writing. She had always been a really energetic, dynamic, extremely active and independent woman. As she became ill, she noticed her own physical abilities were limited and that was a loss for her, but it was also a loss for us. She was becoming someone that we weren't used to — she wasn't the mother we grew up with. It got me thinking about the things we lose. Even before losing someone completely, we begin to grieve the loss of who we thought they were and the loss of who we were with them."

Knowing when to stop caring

"When Simran was a child, she wanted to be a caregiver. She realized her family was disjointed and wanted to hold the family together. As her mother becomes ill, she takes up that role again only to realize that just because she is the oldest doesn't mean she is responsible for everyone. That's the journey she undertakes — learning not only to give, but also to accept care."   

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Facing the past

"Because Diwa, the only son in the family, presents himself as a reincarnated family member, it's too much for the father. He sees it as a punishment in which his past is visiting his present. So, rather than cope with it or find an opportunity to be merciful and forgive or be forgiven, it is easier for him to ignore his son. Most people, when presented with some kind of problem, choose to ignore it first — it's easier." 

Gurjinder Basran​'s comments have been edited and condensed.