A Sri Lankan-born Canadian novelist and poet, Philip Michael Ondaatje, wrote Running in the Family. He is best known for writing The English Patient. But this book is not a work of fiction; instead, it is a memoir from his youth in Sri Lanka. The events happening in the book can be classified as creative non-fiction. The book is written in postmodern style, with writing from the perspective of different real-life individuals and refraining from stringing narrative together in an orderly fashion. The focus of the book is Michael's family. The Ondaatje family had lived in Ceylon for centuries, so he has a large number of relatives who live there. The main focus of the book is on his alcoholic father, Mervyn Ondaatje. He also focuses on his outrageous grandmother Lalla.
In the acknowledgments, Michael notes that his book is a "composite," or a mixture of his two return journeys to Sri Lanka in 1978 and 1980. He stayed for several months each time, first traveling alone and then with his family. He and his sister Gillian also researched around the island. Gillian, his sister Janet and his brother Christopher helped him to recreate the events that had happened at certain occasions in the past. His raw material came from numerous friends, family and acquaintances across the island.
The book explores a variety of themes; a few of which are very important is family, social expectations, addiction, the memory of youth, and loneliness. Ondaatje is focused primarily on exploring his family and these themes; as a result, the book is not structured around a single narrative. It is comprised of seven large chapters that contain various sketches of memories, interviews and reports that are separated as sub-chapters. For instance, Chapter 1, "Asian Rumors" has two sub-chapters, "Asia" and "Jaffna Afternoons." The first sub-chapter covers Michael's return trip to Sri Lanka and the second mostly discusses the old governor's house on the island. The other six... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(2010, 10). Running in the Family. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 2010, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Running-In-The-Family-457539.html
"Running in the Family" StudyMode.com. 10 2010. 10 2010 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Running-In-The-Family-457539.html>.
"Running in the Family." StudyMode.com. 10, 2010. Accessed 10, 2010. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Running-In-The-Family-457539.html.