Michael Ondaatje - Life Stories, Books, and Links
Biographical Information

Stories about Michael Ondaatje

Selected works by this author

Selected books about / related to this author

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Picture of Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient, Anil's Ghost, and In the Skin of a Lion
Michael Ondaatje
(1943 - )

Category:  Sri Lankan, Canadian Literature
Born: 1943
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Related authors:
Billy the Kid, Derek Walcott
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Michael Ondaatje - LIFE STORIES
7/14/1881     Billy the Kid, by Ondaatje, O. Henry...
On this day in 1881 Billy the Kid was killed by his nemesis, Pat Garrett, at Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Near midnight, the Kid returned from an errand of love or hunger to find someone in his hideout; to his hushed "Quien es? Quien es?," Billy received a fatal shot above the heart. This was also the starting pistol for a fiction marathon which shows no signs of being over. . . .
9/12/1943     Ondaatje, Sri Lanka, Family
On this day in 1943 Michael Ondaatje was born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Ondaatje left Ceylon at the age of eleven, for England and then Canada. Much of his earliest work couldn't have been more Western in topic or setting Billy the Kid, jazz, Toronto -- but several of Ondaatje's books look homeward, one of them his 1982 Running in the Family.
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Anil's Ghost
In the Skin of a Lion
The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems
poetry, anthology
The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
The English Patient
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Spider Blues: Essays on Michael Ondaatje
by Sam Solecki
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"On The Collected Works of Billy the Kid"
An essay explores themes of perception, perspective, and aesthetic vision.

"Through his various histories of Billy the Kid, Ondaatje unleashes the story of the artificer, ironically metaphorized as the notorious murderer; he who must destroy in order to attain enlightenment, and he who seeking enlightenment, merely destroys. In casting Billy the kid as creator/artist and the wild west as the canvas, Ondaatje both underscores and undermines the romantic associations of the gunslinger and of the artist. Even as he suggests how perception and artistic vision are free and wild forms existing without boundaries, Ondaatje points to the bizarre trappings of that vision of the sublime."
BBC Interviews
Find two interviews in which the author discusses the influence of Sri Lanka, the writing of Anil's Ghost, and his appreciation of other craftsmen.
Postcolonial Literature and Culture Web
Find commentary on The Cinnamon Peeler's Wife and Other Poems, Running in the Family, In the Skin of a Lion, and The English Patient, materials offering political, social, and historical context to the author's stories, information on literary concordances, and analysis of plot and structure, theme and subject, imagery and motif, style, genre, and mode. A useful resource for students and teachers.
The online booksellers offers this interview in which Ondaatje discusses several novels and the writing process.

"That's a different kind of resolution [in Anil's Ghost] than In the Skin of a Lion where the book ends with a new starting point, two people driving off into the night and a new life beginning there. In The English Patient, there is a new life beginning for Hana and Kip. I don't see novels ending with any real sense of closure. I see the poem or the novel ending with an open door."
An interview in which the author discusses the 1996 film adaptation of The English Patient.

"If a stranger dies in a movie, it doesn't really affect us as much as someone we've followed for an hour and a half. Whereas in a book, you can invent a stranger on the last five pages of a novel, and give that enough empathy for the reader to be devastated. I think that is one of the differences between film and books that is very interesting. In a book, you can suddenly leap to another world and bring that world into the room. So the choices made here aren't so much about the politics of the movie-makers, they're about the technical limits of film — a medium that can also give us something quite devastating by saying less."
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March 18, 2018
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