A novel by the Booker Prize-Winning author of "The English Patient". The result is a disturbing and timeless revelatory journey.
The novel's action revolves around Anil Tissera, a young forensic anthropologist, born in Sri Lanka but educated in Europe and America, who "had courted foreignness", and "was at ease whether on the Bakerloo line or on the highways around Santa Fe". Anil returns to the country of her birth after 15 years on a United Nations sponsored investigation into the escalating number of politically motivated murders engulfing the island. As Anil begins to realise the scale of the murder and horror which her investigations reveal, it becomes clear that "the darkest Greek tragedies were innocent compared with what was happening here". She reluctantly teams up with Sarath Diyasena, "the archaeologist selected by the government" to investigate a particularly sensitive murder; skeletons discovered buried in the Bandarawela caves, one of the most archaeologically sensitive sites in the entire country. One skeleton in particular fascinates both Anil and Sarath. Simply known as "Sailor", the quest for the skeleton's identity sucks both Anil and Sarath into the terrifying heart of darkness which makes up contemporary Sri Lankan politics. Ondaatje reflects upon the ancient history of Sri Lanka through the fragments of history and identity that Anil and Sarath uphold in the face of the murder and chaos which surrounds them.
Although Anil's Ghost is a poetic and beautifully written book, it is also a tough, uncompromising and brave novel about a terrifying conflict that the world has chosen to ignore. --Jerry Brotton