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The Cat's Table (Vintage International)

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The Cat's Table (Vintage International) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the cat's table — as far from the Captain's Table as can be — with a ragtag group of insignificant adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, bursting all over the place like freed mercury. But there are other diversions as well: one man talks with them about jazz and women, another opens the door to the world of literature. The narrator's elusive, beautiful cousin Emily becomes his confidante, allowing him to see himself with a distant eye for the first time, and to feel the first stirring of desire. Another Cat's Table denizen, the shadowy Miss Lasqueti, is perhaps more than what she seems. And very late every night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner, his crime and his fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever.

As the narrative moves between the decks and holds of the ship and the boy's adult years, it tells a spellbinding story — by turns poignant and electrifying — about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.

Review:

The Cat’s Table is just as skillfully wrought as Ondaatje’s magnum opus The English Patient, but its picaresque childhood adventure gives it a special power and intimacy....He is a master at creating characters, whom he chooses to present, memorably, as individuals. This choice is of a piece with the freshness and originality that are the hallmarks of The Cat’s Table.” Wall Street Journal

Review:

“A joy and a lark to read....Within a few pages of the book’s opening, The Cat’s Table has done a miraculous thing — it has ceased to be a book, or even a piece of art. It is merely a story, unfolding before the reader’s eyes, its churning motor a mystery about what it is exactly that happened on this boat....Told in short bursts of exposition so beautiful one actually feels the urge to slow the reading down, the novel shows us how the boy assembles the man.” Boston Globe

Review:

The Cat’s Table is an exquisite example of the richness that can flourish in the gaps between fact and fiction....Ondaatje has an eerily precise grasp of the immediacy of a child’s world view, and an extraordinary sense of individual destiny....It is an adventure story, it is a meditation on power, memory, art, childhood, love and loss. It displays a technique so formidable as to seem almost playful. It is one of those rare books that one could reread an infinite number of times, and always find something new within its pages.” Evening Standard (UK)

Review:

“This book is wonderful, offering all the best pleasures of Ondaatje’s writing: his musical prose, up-tempo; his ear for absurd, almost surreal dialogue, which had me laughing out loud in public as I read; his admiration for craftsmanship and specialized language in the sciences and the trades; and his sumptuous evocations of sensual delight....In many ways, this book is Ondaatje’s most intimate yet.” Globe and Mail (Canada)

Review:

“A treasure chest of escapades from a pitch-perfect writer, an immaculate observer of the dance of humans, giving us an intoxicating mix of tenderly rendered boy’s eye perspective and the musings of the older narrator looking back on this intensely formative voyage....It is a classic, perfect premise for a novel packed with possibilities. Put it in the hands of one of the most subtle and surprising masters of world writing, Michael Ondaatje, and unalloyed joy lies latent in every sentence and sensuous quirk of the narrative. This is simply blissful storytelling....Think the seafaring Joseph Conrad, with an invigorating infusion of Treasure Island, a touch of Mark Twain.” The Scotsman (UK)

Review:

“Ondaatje’s best novel since his Booker Prize-winning The English Patient....[An] air of the meta adds a gorgeous, modern twist to the timeless story of boys having an awfully big adventure....As always, Ondaatje’s prose is lyrical, but here it is tempered; the result is clean and full of grace.” Publishers Weekly (starred)

Review:

“A graceful, closely observed novel that blends coming-of-age tropes with a Conradian sea voyage....Beautifully detailed, without a false note: It is easy to imagine, in Ondaatje’s hands, being a passenger in the golden age of transoceanic voyaging, amid a sea of cocktail glasses and overflowing ashtrays, if in this case a setting more worthy of John le Carré than Noel Coward....Elegiac, mature, and nostalgic — a fine evocation of childhood, and of days irretrievably past.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Review:

“Ondaatje is justly recognized as a master of literary craft....The novel tells of a journey from childhood to the adult world, as well as a passage from the homeland to another country, something of a Dantean experience.” Annie Proulx, The Guardian (UK)

Review:

“Ondaatje’s wondrous prose feels more alive to the world than ever before....This is a simpler story, more simply told, than Ondaatje has accustomed his readers to....Yet The Cat’s Table is no less thrilling in its attempts to capture beauty in its various and terrifying forms.” Financial Times (UK)

Review:

“Richly enjoyable, often very funny, and gleams like a really smart liner on a sunny day....The magic of this fine book is in the strange inventiveness of its episodes. Ondaatje is really the master of incident in the novel, and the enchantments wash over the reader in waves....The beauty of Ondaatje’s writing is in its swift accuracy; it sings with the simple precision of the gaze.” Daily Telegraph (UK)

Review:

The Cat’s Table is Ondaatje’s most accessible, most compelling novel to date. It may also be his finest...Ondaatje’s prose is, as always, stunning....The Cat’s Table is a breathtaking account not only of boyhood, but of its loss. It is a novel filled with utterly unique characters and situations, but universal in its themes, heartbreakingly so, and a journey the reader will never forget.” Vancouver Sun

Review:

“An eloquent, elegiac tribute to the game of youth and how it shapes what follows....One of the strengths of the novel is the sheer brilliance of characterization on show. The bit players on board the Oronsay are almost Dickensian in their eccentricity and lovability....In The Cat’s Table, he has not only captured with acute precision the precarious balance of his characters’ existence on the move but also the battle that adults wage for the retention of the awe and wonder they once took for granted in their childhood. Ultimately, Ondaatje has created a beautiful and poetic study hre of what it means to have your very existence metaphorically, as well as literally, all at sea.” Independent on Sunday (UK)

Review:

“A novel superbly poised between the magic of innocence and the melancholy of experience.” Economist (UK)

Review:

“Is there a novelist who writes more compellingly about tenderness than Ondaatje?....The Cat’s Table is a voyage of discovery for the reader as well as for its narrator. I loved the book, was dazzled by its language, and looked forward to turning each page to learn what would happen next.” Montreal Gazette

Synopsis:

In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the “cat’s table” — as far from the Captain’s Table as can be — with a ragtag group of “insignificant” adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship crosses the Indian Ocean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, bursting all over the place like freed mercury. But there are other diversions as well: they are first exposed to the magical worlds of jazz, women, and literature by their eccentric fellow travelers, and together they spy on a shackled prisoner, his crime and fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever. By turns poignant and electrifying, The Cat’s Table is a spellbinding story about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood, and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.

About the Author

Michael Ondaatje is the author of five previous novels, a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. The English Patient won the Booker Prize; Anil’s Ghost won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Giller Prize, and the Prix Médicis. Born in Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje now lives in Toronto.

www.michaelondaatje.com

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 5 comments:

legomymego, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by legomymego)
An enjoyable read; a magical book. Definitely recommended.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Judy Martin, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Judy Martin)
Three boys have the run of a ship on a voyage from Ceylon to England in the 50’s. Their daring antics, cautious friendships,interactions with adult table-mates at “the least privileged place” on the ship, and the narrator's observations about intrigue and romance among shipmates add up to an engaging, memorable novel.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Legweak, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Legweak)
Excellent writing.
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View all 5 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307744418
Author:
Ondaatje, Michael
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage International
Publication Date:
20120631
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8 x 5.17 x 0.83 in 0.64 lb

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The Cat's Table (Vintage International) New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.00 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Vintage - English 9780307744418 Reviews:
"Review" by , The Cat’s Table is just as skillfully wrought as Ondaatje’s magnum opus The English Patient, but its picaresque childhood adventure gives it a special power and intimacy....He is a master at creating characters, whom he chooses to present, memorably, as individuals. This choice is of a piece with the freshness and originality that are the hallmarks of The Cat’s Table.”
"Review" by , “A joy and a lark to read....Within a few pages of the book’s opening, The Cat’s Table has done a miraculous thing — it has ceased to be a book, or even a piece of art. It is merely a story, unfolding before the reader’s eyes, its churning motor a mystery about what it is exactly that happened on this boat....Told in short bursts of exposition so beautiful one actually feels the urge to slow the reading down, the novel shows us how the boy assembles the man.”
"Review" by , The Cat’s Table is an exquisite example of the richness that can flourish in the gaps between fact and fiction....Ondaatje has an eerily precise grasp of the immediacy of a child’s world view, and an extraordinary sense of individual destiny....It is an adventure story, it is a meditation on power, memory, art, childhood, love and loss. It displays a technique so formidable as to seem almost playful. It is one of those rare books that one could reread an infinite number of times, and always find something new within its pages.”
"Review" by , “This book is wonderful, offering all the best pleasures of Ondaatje’s writing: his musical prose, up-tempo; his ear for absurd, almost surreal dialogue, which had me laughing out loud in public as I read; his admiration for craftsmanship and specialized language in the sciences and the trades; and his sumptuous evocations of sensual delight....In many ways, this book is Ondaatje’s most intimate yet.”
"Review" by , “A treasure chest of escapades from a pitch-perfect writer, an immaculate observer of the dance of humans, giving us an intoxicating mix of tenderly rendered boy’s eye perspective and the musings of the older narrator looking back on this intensely formative voyage....It is a classic, perfect premise for a novel packed with possibilities. Put it in the hands of one of the most subtle and surprising masters of world writing, Michael Ondaatje, and unalloyed joy lies latent in every sentence and sensuous quirk of the narrative. This is simply blissful storytelling....Think the seafaring Joseph Conrad, with an invigorating infusion of Treasure Island, a touch of Mark Twain.”
"Review" by , “Ondaatje’s best novel since his Booker Prize-winning The English Patient....[An] air of the meta adds a gorgeous, modern twist to the timeless story of boys having an awfully big adventure....As always, Ondaatje’s prose is lyrical, but here it is tempered; the result is clean and full of grace.”
"Review" by , “A graceful, closely observed novel that blends coming-of-age tropes with a Conradian sea voyage....Beautifully detailed, without a false note: It is easy to imagine, in Ondaatje’s hands, being a passenger in the golden age of transoceanic voyaging, amid a sea of cocktail glasses and overflowing ashtrays, if in this case a setting more worthy of John le Carré than Noel Coward....Elegiac, mature, and nostalgic — a fine evocation of childhood, and of days irretrievably past.”
"Review" by , “Ondaatje is justly recognized as a master of literary craft....The novel tells of a journey from childhood to the adult world, as well as a passage from the homeland to another country, something of a Dantean experience.”
"Review" by , “Ondaatje’s wondrous prose feels more alive to the world than ever before....This is a simpler story, more simply told, than Ondaatje has accustomed his readers to....Yet The Cat’s Table is no less thrilling in its attempts to capture beauty in its various and terrifying forms.”
"Review" by , “Richly enjoyable, often very funny, and gleams like a really smart liner on a sunny day....The magic of this fine book is in the strange inventiveness of its episodes. Ondaatje is really the master of incident in the novel, and the enchantments wash over the reader in waves....The beauty of Ondaatje’s writing is in its swift accuracy; it sings with the simple precision of the gaze.”
"Review" by , The Cat’s Table is Ondaatje’s most accessible, most compelling novel to date. It may also be his finest...Ondaatje’s prose is, as always, stunning....The Cat’s Table is a breathtaking account not only of boyhood, but of its loss. It is a novel filled with utterly unique characters and situations, but universal in its themes, heartbreakingly so, and a journey the reader will never forget.”
"Review" by , “An eloquent, elegiac tribute to the game of youth and how it shapes what follows....One of the strengths of the novel is the sheer brilliance of characterization on show. The bit players on board the Oronsay are almost Dickensian in their eccentricity and lovability....In The Cat’s Table, he has not only captured with acute precision the precarious balance of his characters’ existence on the move but also the battle that adults wage for the retention of the awe and wonder they once took for granted in their childhood. Ultimately, Ondaatje has created a beautiful and poetic study hre of what it means to have your very existence metaphorically, as well as literally, all at sea.”
"Review" by , “A novel superbly poised between the magic of innocence and the melancholy of experience.”
"Review" by , “Is there a novelist who writes more compellingly about tenderness than Ondaatje?....The Cat’s Table is a voyage of discovery for the reader as well as for its narrator. I loved the book, was dazzled by its language, and looked forward to turning each page to learn what would happen next.”
"Synopsis" by , In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the “cat’s table” — as far from the Captain’s Table as can be — with a ragtag group of “insignificant” adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship crosses the Indian Ocean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, bursting all over the place like freed mercury. But there are other diversions as well: they are first exposed to the magical worlds of jazz, women, and literature by their eccentric fellow travelers, and together they spy on a shackled prisoner, his crime and fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever. By turns poignant and electrifying, The Cat’s Table is a spellbinding story about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood, and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.
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