Running in the Family Paperback – 1 Aug 2009
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'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.
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Top customer reviews
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.
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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Unfortunately found it really boring and cannot understand why it is so highly rated.