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Anils Ghostby Michael Ondaatje
Synopses & Reviews
Following the phenomenal success of Michael Ondaatjes Booker Prize-winning third novel, The English Patient, expectations were almost insurmountable. The internationally acclaimed #1 bestseller had made Ondaatje the first Canadian novelist ever to win the Booker. Four years later, in 1996, a motion picture based on the book brought the story to a vast new audience. The film, starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche, went on to win numerous prizes, among them nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Worldwide English-language sales of the book topped two million copies.
But in April 2000, Anils Ghost was widely hailed as Ondaatjes most powerful and engrossing novel to date. Winning a Governor Generals Literary Award for Fiction, the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize and the Giller Prize, Anils Ghost became an international bestseller. “Nowhere has Ondaatje written more beautifully,” said The New York Times Book Review.
The setting is Sri Lanka. Steeped in centuries of cultural achievement and tradition, the country has been ravaged in the late twentieth century by bloody civil war. As in The English Patient, Ondaatjes latest novel follows a womans attempt to piece together the lost life of a victim of war. Anil Tissera, born in Sri Lanka but educated in England and the U.S., is sent by an international human rights group to participate in an investigation into suspected mass political murders in her homeland. Working with an archaeologist, she discovers a skeleton whose identity takes Anil on a fascinating journey that involves a riveting mystery. What follows, in a novel rich with character, emotion, and incident, is a story about love and loss, about family, identity and the unknown enemy. And it is a quest to unlock the hidden past - like a handful of soil analyzed by an archaeologist, the story becomes more diffuse the farther we reach into history.
A universal tale of the casualties of war, unfolding as a detective story, the book gradually gives way to a more intricate exploration of its characters, a symphony of loss and loneliness haunted by a cast of solitary strangers and ghosts. The atrocities of a seemingly futile, muddled war are juxtaposed against the ancient, complex and ultimately redemptive culture and landscape of Sri Lanka.
Anils Ghost is Michael Ondaatje's first novel to be set in the country of his birth. “Theres a tendency with us in England and North America to say its a book ‘about Sri Lanka. But its just my take on a few characters, a personal tunnelling into that … The books not just about Sri Lanka; its a story thats very familiar in other parts of the world” - in Africa, in Yugoslavia, in South America, in Ireland. “I didnt want it to be a political tract. I wanted it to be a human study of people in the midst of fear.”
In his first novel since the internationally acclaimed The English Patient — winner of the Booker Prize and the Governor General's Award — Michael Ondaatje gives us a work displaying all the richness of imagery and language and the piercing emotional truth we have come to know as the hallmarks of his writing.
Anil's Ghost transports us to Sri Lanka, a country steeped in centuries of tradition, now forced into the late twentieth century by the ravages of civil war. Into this maelstrom steps Anil Tissera, a young woman born in Sri Lanka, educated in England and America, who returns to Sri Lanka as a forensic anthropologist sent by an international human rights group to discover the source of the organized campaigns of murder engulfing the island. What follows is a story about love, about family, about identity, about the unknown enemy, about the quest to unlock the hidden past - a story propelled by a riveting mystery. Unfolding against the deeply evocative background of Sri Lanka's landscape and ancient civilization, Anil's Ghost is a literary spellbinder - Michael Ondaatje's most powerful novel yet.
About the Author
Michael Ondaatje is the author of three previous novels, a memoir, and eleven books of poetry. His most recent novel, The English Patient, won the Booker Prize. Born in Sri Lanka, he came to Canada in 1963 and now lives in Toronto.
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