Sri-Lanka native Michael Ondaatje is a literary phenomenon: a best-selling writer, one whose work is a stunning fusion of jazz rhythms, film montage technique, and profoundly beautiful language. Although he is best known as a novelist, Ondaatje’s work also encompasses memoir, poetry, and film, and reveals a passion for defying conventional form. In his landmark novel, The English Patient—later made into the Academy Award-winning film—he explores the history of people that history does not explore, intersecting four diverse lives at the end of World War II. Ondaatje is himself an interesting intersection of cultures. Born in the former Ceylon of Dutch/ Indian ancestry, he was raised in London, and is now a Canadian citizen. From the memoir of his childhood, Running in the Family, to his Governor-General’s award-winning book of poetry, There’s a Trick with a Knife I’m Learning To Do, to his classic novel, The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje casts a spell over his readers. And having won the British Commonwealth’s highest honor—the Booker Prize—Ondaatje has taken his rightful place as a contemporary literary treasure.
Poet will be on campus for Workshop/Poetry Reading on Wednesday, April 18, 2001.