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Running in the Family (Special Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Michael Ondaatje
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

‘During certain hours, at certain years in our lives, we see ourselves as remnants from the earlier generations that were destroyed... I think all of our lives have been terribly shaped by what went on before us.'Twenty-five years after leaving his native Sri Lanka for the cool winters of Ontario, a chaotic dream of tropical heat and barking dogs pushes Michael Ondaatje to travel back home and revisit a childhood and a family he never fully understood. Along with his siblings and children, Ondaatje gathers rumours, anecdotes, poems, records and memories to piece together this fragmented portrayal of his family's past, his father's destructive alcoholism and the colourful stories and secrets of ancestors both disgraced and adored throughout centuries of Sri Lankan society.In an exotic, evocative portrait of the heat, wildlife, sounds and silences of the Sri Lankan landscape, Ondaatje combines vivid recreations of a privileged, eccentric older generation with a deeply personal reconciliatory journey in which he explores his own ghosts, and how his family's extraordinary history continues to influence his life.

Product Description


'Michael Ondaatje is here at his agile and evocative best. His latest book is an account of an exotic and outrageous family, a true story with all of the most exciting qualities of fiction. Brightly coloured, sweet and painful, bloody-minded and otherworldly, it achieves the status of legend' Margaret Atwood 'An outstandingly evocative, semi-autobiographic account of a journey back to the beginning, to Ceylon where Ondaatje was born into a privileged group of mixed Dutch, Tamil and Sinhalese origins. Created from asides, snapshots, poems, glimpses in every way unorthodox and incomplete, it falls magically on the page with all the grace of a billowing, seamless dress. Like all classic writing the motion of this book lingers on, like the movement of a boat, long after the last pages' New Statesman 'A beautiful, luscious book. Michael Ondaatje has depicted his extraordinary family, who delighted in masks and costumes and love affairs that "rainbowed over marriages" in the kind of language that makes glory of their lives. He has gone on a poet's journey to Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and the reader who travels with him enters a truly magical world' Maxine Hong Kingston 'Eloquent, oblique, witty, full of light and feeling .Ondaatje's knowledge of the fragility and luck of life is very clear. So, too, is the grace and originality of his prose' New Yorker

About the Author

Michael Ondaatje is the author of five novels, a memoir, a non-fiction book on film and several books of poetry. His novel The English Patient won the Booker Prize; another of his novels, Anil's Ghost, won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize and the Prix Medicis. His most recent book, Divisadero, won the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction 2007. Born in Sri Lanka, he now lives in Toronto.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 496 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1408801450
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; Special edition edition (13 Dec. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004U9J7RO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #41,897 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No place like home 14 Aug. 2014
I moved to Sri Lanka in March of this year and this was the first book I read about the island.

In beautiful and very distinctive prose Ondaatje pieces together reminiscences, stories, poems and legends to create a compelling portrait of Ceylon (as it was then). Much of the world he describes has passed into memory, but there are things I can recognise only too well: the sweltering heat ('stalking like an animal') of Colombo, the downpours, the barking dogs, the fans and red cement floors.

But ultimately Ceylon is only a backdrop, for this is a book about people. And what a cast of characters! From Francis Fonseka ('his tumescent heart notorious all over Colombo'), to former PM Sir John Kotelawala with his legendary breakfasts, to Ondaatje's grandmother Lalla (who could 'read thunder'). The character Ondaatje is searching for most, though, is Mervyn Ondaatje - an alcoholic and by all accounts a deeply troubled man. In its last few pages 'Running in the Family' becomes a moving tribute to the father Ondaatje never truly knew, and a realisation that 'all of our lives have been terribly shaped by what went on before us.'

This is a wonderful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read from an ex-Colonial child! 23 Jun. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having lived in Ceylon as a child, I found this book to be charming and fascinating as it filled in some of the background for me.
There was a definite prejudice from the Colonial administrators towards the native peoples which as a child one did not know about so this lovely book opened my eyes to a reality that I had not known. I liked it very much, as I do all of Michael Ondaatje's books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing 20 Nov. 2013
Michael Ondaatje writes an amusing story about his family and the plethora of gamblers and boozers. The racecourse bits are very funny and I should think that there is nothing Mr. Ondaatje doesn't know about horses!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Running in the Family 16 Feb. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Read the book whilst in Sri Lanka. It provided a very atmospheric explanation to the Dutch influence on the island.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Reading it in Sri Lanka on holiday, Ondaatje's memoirs still resonate, unlikely as some of them seem ( though quite possibly true). Wish the old photos could have been better reproduced. The structure of the book is so dislocated that only an already established writer could have got away with it and retained the readers' interest.
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