“Distinctive, eloquent.” – The New York Times
Michael Ondaatje is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian novelist and poet, whose work includes fiction, autobiography, poetry and film. One of Canada’s most highly regarded writers, Ondaatje is known for his lyrical, beautiful works, which dissolve the lines between prose and poetry, past and present, image and intellect, thought and feeling.
Whether retelling an American myth in “The Collected Works of Billy the Kid” (1973), reshaping recollections of friends and family from his childhood in old Ceylon in “Running in the Family” (1982), or delving into the brutality of Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war in “Anil’s Ghost” (2000), Ondaatje displays a keen understanding of the internal struggles of his characters, using a poetic writing style that depends upon juxtaposition, startling imagery and intense, often difficult, language. His 1992 novel, “The English Patient,” won the Booker Prize, and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning feature film of the same name.
A well-regarded poet before turning to fiction, Ondaatje’s work in both genres is infused with sensual images, rich language and a deeply metaphorical bent.
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Photos by Bryan Berkowitz