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Divisadero (Vintage International)by Michael Ondaatje
Reading Ondaatje's new book, Divisadero, is like listening to great music. You are caught up in the moment, the elegiac writing, and propelled into a different reality. The crescendo brings it altogether, the passion, the years of hurt and pain, and the healing power of time. Like great music, you will need to listen to this book again and again, each time discovering new depths and greater understanding.
Synopses & Reviews
From the celebrated author of The English Patient and Anil's Ghost comes a remarkable, intimate novel of intersecting lives that ranges across continents and time.
In the 1970s in Northern California a father and his teenage daughters, Anna and Claire, work their farm with the help of Coop, an enigmatic young man who makes his home with them. Theirs is a makeshift family, until it is shattered by an incident of violence that sets fire to the rest of their lives. Divisadero takes us from San Francisco to the raucous backrooms of Nevada's casinos and eventually to the landscape of southern France. As the narrative moves back and forth through time and place, we find each of the characters trying to find some foothold in a present shadowed by the past.
"Ondaatje's oddly structured but emotionally riveting fifth novel opens in the Northern California of the 1970s. Anna, who is 16 and whose mother died in childbirth, has formed a serene makeshift family with her same-age adopted sister, Claire, and a taciturn farmhand, Coop, 20. But when the girls' father, otherwise a ghostly presence, finds Anna having sex with Coop and beats him brutally, Coop leaves the farm, drawing on a cardsharp's skills to make an itinerant living as a poker player. A chance meeting years later reunites him with Claire. Runaway teen Anna, scarred by her father's savage reaction, resurfaces as an adult in a rural French village, researching the life of a Gallic author, Jean Segura, who lived and died in the house where she has settled. The novel here bifurcates, veering almost a century into the past to recount Segura's life before WWI, leaving the stories of Coop, Claire and Anna enigmatically unresolved. The dreamlike Segura novella, juxtaposed with the longer opening section, will challenge readers to uncover subtle but explosive links between past and present. Ondaatje's first fiction in six years lacks the gut punch of Anil's Ghost and the harrowing meditation on brutality that marked The English Patient, but delivers his trademark seductive prose, quixotic characters and psychological intricacy. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"My life always stops for a new book by Michael Ondaatje. I began Divisadero as soon as it came into my possession and over the course of a few evenings was captivated by Ondaatje's finest novel to date....Divisadero is a deeply ordered, full-bodied work, illuminating both what it means to belong to a family and what it means to be alone in the world." Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Namesake and Unaccustomed Earth
"Ravishing and intricate....Few experiences in contemporary fiction are as sensual and absorbing as making one's way through the pages of an Ondaatje novel....Divisadero extends the liberating and original territory of that earlier triumph [The English Patient] so unforgettably that it's hard, on finishing, not to turn back to the opening page and start all over." Pico Iyer, The New York Review of Books
"Brilliant....Divisadero plays whimsically with chronology and memory, with fantasy and historical fact." San Francisco Chronicle
"Page for page, Divisadero is an exhilarating read....The rise and fall of every well-turned sentence could be set to music, and his writing has a vivid physicality." LA Weekly
"Magnificent....Ondaatje pulls off the plotlines masterfully....He introduces memorable characters [and] scenes of majestic texture and captivating imagery....From its first to last telling sentence, this aesthetic tale, poetic with human detail, is a rare and precious pleasure." USA Today
"Divisadero is powered by narrative force and contains finely chiseled characters. [It] is also a book profuse with poetic imagery, profound themes and the delicate architecture of open verse....Stunning bits of lyrical observation turn up on almost every page....Breathtaking." Chicago Sun-Times
"A mesmerizing saga....Ondaatje has woven a tale of loves lost and families sundered in a brilliantly poetic voice — a tale that lingers long after its telling." Bookpage
"Poetic intensity trumps structural irregularity and storytelling opacity in the celebrated Ontario author's intense fifth novel....Not to be missed." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[Ondaatje] is a writer of intense acuity. His eminence is well earned. This book is initially difficult, but the more you give Divisadero, the more it gives in return." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
From the celebrated author of The English Patient and Anil's Ghost comes a remarkable new novel of intersecting lives across continents and time.
About the Author
Michael Ondaatje is the author of four previous novels, a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and eleven books of poetry. His novel The English Patient won the Booker Prize. Born in Sri Lanka, he moved to Canada in 1962 and now lives in Toronto.
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