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Running in the Family

by Michael Ondaatje
afterword by Nicole Brossard

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literary
list price: $10.95
edition:Paperback
published: 1993
ISBN:9780771098956
Description

In Michael Ondaatje’s beloved family memoir, fact and fiction blur to create a dazzlingly original portrait of a lost time and place. Ondaatje left Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) at the age of eleven. Almost twenty-five years later, he returned to sort out the recollected fragments of experience, legend, and family scandal, and to reconstruct the carefree, doomed life his parents and grandparents had led in a place where couples danced the tango in the moonlight, where drink, gambling, and romance were the main occupations of the upper class. Rich with eccentric characters and captivating stories, and set against the exotic landscape of a colonial empire in decline, Running in the Family is Ondaatje’s unforgettable journey through memory and imagination to reclaim his past.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Contributor notes

Michael Ondaatje is the author of the internationally celebrated novels In the Skin of a Lion, The English Patient, and, most recently, Anil’s Ghost. His other books include Running in the Family, Coming Through Slaughter, The Cinnamon Peeler, and Handwriting. Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka, and came to Canada in 1962.

He lives in Toronto.

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Editorial Review

“Brightly coloured, sweet and painful, bloody-minded and otherworldly, [this book] achieves the status of legend.”
–Margaret Atwood

“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.”
The New Yorker

“Ondaatje has produced a remarkable book.…Shimmering through the haze of heat and memory is an impressionistic, sometimes surreal portrait of an exotic time and place now gone, a colonial paradise that had its own rhythms and imperatives.”
Globe and Mail

“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

“It sparkles with the intensity and vividness of its multifaceted tales of romance and intrigue.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“A brilliant, charming, poetic, hyperbolic holiday of a book.…Ondaatje walks the line between fact and fiction with a delicately rendered delight.”
Vancouver Province

“…the brilliant and moving book he has written is original in every way that matters.”
–W. S. Merwin

“A beautiful, luscious book of discovery and remembrance.”
Hamilton Spectator

“With a prose style equal to the voluptuousness of [Ondaatje’s] subject and a sense of humor never too far away, Running in the Family is sheer reading pleasure.”
Washington Post

“It dazzles with its range of imagination, richness of language and the consistently involving changes of mood and tempo.”
Toronto Star

“This is an intriguing, funny, dream-like book, impossible to put down.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“…brief, vivid scenes, moments revived out of remote memories, pictures of the intensities lived by his passionate parents… amid the lush flora, the predatory fauna, and the old-fashioned life of the British colonies. This is great story-telling.…"
–Leon Edel

From the Hardcover edition.

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About the Authors

Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje (born 12 September 1943) is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian novelist and poet of Colombo Chetty and Burgher origin. He is perhaps best known for his Booker Prize-winning novel, The English Patient, which was adapted into an Academy-Award-winning film.

He moved to England in 1954, and in 1962 moved to Canada where he has lived ever since. He was educated at the University of Toronto and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and began teaching at York University in Toronto in 1971. He published a volume of memoir, entitled Running in the Family, in 1983. His collections of poetry include The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left Handed Poems (1981), which won the Canadian Governor General’s Award in 1971; The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems (1989); and Handwriting: Poems (1998). His first novel, Coming Through Slaughter (1976), is a fictional portrait of jazz musician Buddy Bolden. The English Patient (1992), set in Italy at the end of the Second World War, was joint winner of the Booker Prize for Fiction and was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1996. Anil’s Ghost (2000), set in Sri Lanka, tells the story of a young female anthropologist investigating war crimes for an international human rights group.

Michael Ondaatje lives in Toronto with his wife, Linda Spalding, with whom he edits the literary journal Brick. His new novel is Divisadero (2007).

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Nicole Brossard

Two-time Governor General’s Award winner for her poetry, Nicole Brossard has published more than thirty books of poetry, fiction, and essays since 1965. She has co-founded and co-directed the literary magazine La Barre du Jour (1965-1975), co-directed the film Some American Feminists (1976), and co-edited the acclaimed Anthologie de la poésie des femmes au Québec (1991 and 2003). Her work has been widely translated into English and Spanish and is also available in many other languages. Nicole has won numerous awards, including winning the Trois-Rivières International Poetry Festival Grand Prix Québecor in 1989 and 1999, the Prix Athanase-David in 1991, and the the first Violet Prize awarded by the Blue Metropolis Festival in 2018. One of her novels, Mauve Desert, has been presented as a multidisciplinary creation in 2018 and is slated for an opera adaptation in 2020-21. She is an officer of the Order of Canada, chevalière of the National Order of Quebec, and a member of l’Académie des lettres du Québec. Nicole currently lives in Montreal.

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