With his first novel since the internationally acclaimed The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje gives us a work displaying all the richness of imagery and language and the piercing emotional truth that we have come to know as the hallmarks of his writing.
The place is modern-day Sri Lanka, the island nation formerly known as Ceylon, off the southern tip of India. It is a country steeped in centuries of cultural achievement and tradition, and forced into the late 20th century by the ravages of civil war and the consequences of a country divided against itself. Into this maelstrom steps a young woman, Anil Tissera, born in Sri Lanka, educated in England and America, a forensic anthropologist sent by an international human-rights group to work with local officials to discover the source of the organized campaigns of murder engulfing the island.
Bodies are discovered. Skeletons. And particularly one, nicknamed "Sailor". What follows is a story about love, family, and identity, about the unknown enemy and the quest to unlock the hidden past - all propelled by a riveting mystery.
©2000 Michael Ondaatje; (P)2000 Random House, Inc.
"The beauty in this novel is the lyricism Ondaatje interjects into even mundane situations." (Book)
"Ondaatje's writing is stunningly lyrical, at once dreamy and detailed." (AudioFile)
The subject matter of this book, forensic anthropology, seems an unlikley one for poetic imagery. Yet Andaatje's gift as a writer seems to be the ability to infuse a book with life's harsh realities side by side with glints of light and vitality. It takes the reader to places far away and hard to imagine. But once introduced to the place and the people all make perfect sense.
"Any reviewer who would refer to this novel as good is lying, and kidding the reader." Well that's just stupid, sorry, my opinion, but there it is. I love this audio, and am pretty confident that I?m not the only person on the planet who feels this way. It?s true his writing has more in common with poetry, instead of this week's blockbuster hit. That doesn't play well with some people, but others like it just fine. If you read The English Patient and liked that one, you will like this one too.
In itself, the book's narrative sheds little light on the historical or cultural causes of the Sri Lankan conflict. But then that's not what novels do. Ondaatje's typical lyricism is here with all its loose ends and criss-crossing stories. I very much enjoyed this excellent novel that I will probably read again some time.
I read about 50 books last year, and this was by far the worst. I'm not going to explain all the reasons why, but I will say I never believed it. There was so much backstory, and the narrative was simplistic and boring. The book is thoroughly unconvincing, really almost laughable in its serious tone and bad dialogue. Any reviewer who would refer to this novel as good is lying, and kidding the reader.
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