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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 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
on 23 June 2013
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
on 6 January 2015
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 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
on 16 February 2014
Read the book whilst in Sri Lanka. It provided a very atmospheric explanation to the Dutch influence on the island.
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on 5 January 2015
Brilliant read especially if you are holidaying in Sri Lanka and staying in a colonial villa. But it is much more than that. Very thoughtful and written impeccably. Did it help the author reconcile himself with the father he lost? Hard to tell but a heart turning effort.some wonderful poetry as well. Thank you.
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on 22 March 2015
this is an exemplary family memoir, a tale with no whiskers removed and all obdurate characters celebrated, told thoughtfully and with great narrative skill, humour, tragedy; life's mysterious ways. What more could you want?
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 May 2013
The book is about the author's time in Sri Lanka and full of stories of his family's experiences there. It is interesting as an insight to how the rich lived in the early 1900's in Sri Lanka and how in some cases they squandered their wealth. Today, we would call such people 'wasters', but it was somewhat poignant and sad.
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on 5 January 2015
A good read if you are interested in how things used to be in Ceylon. Full of eccentric and colourful characters.
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on 9 August 2015
excellent
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