Writing family stories
February 12, 2018 1:44 AM   Subscribe

'A stab at truth': my grandmother and the problem with family histories. Aida Edemariam on writing her grandmother's story through a century of Ethiopian history.
posted by tavegyl (5 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
This was a great article, and I'm going to put The Wife's Tale on my to-be-read list.
posted by kimberussell at 6:36 AM on February 12, 2018

A great read, thanks for posting it!
posted by languagehat at 8:44 AM on February 12, 2018

Fantastic article, thank you. Like kimberussell, I've now put The Wife's Tale on my to-read list.

I grew up listening to stories told by my Asian mother and her family. They rivalled anything you'd read in a sweeping fictional family saga, with murder, adultery, secret children, crime syndicates, claims of second sight...you name it.

There were always conflicting versions of what had happened, and as a child, that didn't bother me, though I would sometimes wonder what had really happened. As an adult, I have my suspicions, but since my grandmother has passed away and my mom and aunts can't agree, I'll never know.

But that's why I particularly liked this quote:
The biographer Michael Holroyd, who after a lifetime in which, he recently told the Guardian, “escaping from myself has been my aim as a writer,” wrote two books about his family and puts his faith in what he calls “personal accuracy”: if someone else told the same story it would be different, but it would not thus make the first telling untrue.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:49 AM on February 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Running in the Family is fascinating and worth a look.
posted by ovvl at 4:28 PM on February 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Having finally persuaded some relatives to write down all their memories growing up and promising to help put them all together in a book, this is especially relevant.
posted by blue shadows at 7:21 PM on February 12, 2018

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