There are many good things in this novel but ulimately it doesn't add up to the sum of its parts.
The first half is particularly good setting the scene in Sri Lanka in a state of civil war and the descriptions of the lives of the medical staff are particularly involving and moving. He also does a good job of setting all this in the historical background.
However, about 2/3rds of the way through Ondaatjie seems to loose interest in his nominal 'plot' -the search for the identity of a skeleton found by the main protagonists. We then get a long digression into the life of what had previously been a minor character. When we finally get back to the plot it ends in such a perfuctory way that I was left with a feeling of is that it?
Some wonderful writing, but a lack of coherent structure or plot, plus characters who remain somewhat enigmatic means that the whole thing is much less involving and moving than you might expect.
Maybye the whole thing works much better if you know something about Sri Lanka?