Many readers still claim this haunting, atmospheric novel of Michael Ondaatje's as their first love—a novel as sensual and erotic today as ever it was. At the turn of the century, the Storyville district of New Orleans had some 2000 prostitutes, 70 professional gamblers, and 30 piano players. But it had only one man who played the cornet like Buddy Bolden—he who cut hair by day at N. Joseph's Shaving Parlor, and at night played jazz, unleashing an unforgettable wildness and passion in crowded rooms. Self-destructively in love with two women, he embodied all the dire claims that music places on its acolytes. At the age of 31, Buddy Bolden went mad. From these sparse facts, Michael Ondaatje has created a story as beautiful and chilling as a New Orleans funeral procession, where even the mourners dance.
About the author
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).
"Really a remarkable piece of writing. . . . Brilliantly wrought." —Ken Adachi, Toronto Star
"A spectacular breakthrough into a new prose form." —Peter Newman, Globe and Mail
"Anybody who cares about good writing . . . should get this book and luxuriate in it." —Minneapolis Tribune
"One of the most innovative and liberating writers of our time." —Geoff Dyer, The Observer
"A beautifully detailed story, perhaps the finest jazz novel ever written." —The Sunday Times
"Coming Through Slaughter . . . is so stuffed full of the dolour and lust that both buoys and blemishes a life—it reads like a story dying to be told." —Books in Canada