In Michael Ondaatje’s beloved family memoir, fact and fiction blur to create a dazzlingly original portrait of a lost time and place. Ondaatje left Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) at the age of eleven. Almost twenty-five years later, he returned to sort out the recollected fragments of experience, legend, and family scandal, and to reconstruct the carefree, doomed life his parents and grandparents had led in a place where couples danced the tango in the moonlight, where drink, gambling, and romance were the main occupations of the upper class. Rich with eccentric characters and captivating stories, and set against the exotic landscape of a colonial empire in decline, Running in the Family is Ondaatje’s unforgettable journey through memory and imagination to reclaim his past.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the authors
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).
Nicole Brossard was born in Montréal in 1943. Twice Governor General’s Award winner for her poetry, she has published more than thirty books since 1965. Many have been translated into English: Mauve Desert, The Aerial Letter, Picture Theory, Lovhers, Baroque at Dawn, The Blue Books, Installations, Museum of Bone and Water, Fluid Arguments, Notebook of Roses and Civilization and White Piano. She has co-founded and co-directed the literary magazine La Barre du Jour (1965-1975), co-directed the film Some American Feminists (1976), and co-edited the acclaimed Anthologie de la poésie des femmes au Québec (1991 and 2003).
She is an officer of the Order of Canada, chevalière of the National Order of Quebec, and a member of l’Académie des lettres du Québec. She has twice won the Trois-Rivières International Poetry Festival Grand Prix Québecor (1989 and 1999). In 1991 she was awarded le Prix Athanase-David (the highest literary recognition in Québec). Her work has been widely translated into English and Spanish and is also available in many other languages, including German, Italian, Japanese, Slovenian, Romanian, Norwegian, Catalan, and Portuguese. Two anthologies of her work in English have appeared: Selections: the poetry of Nicole Brossard (2010) and Mobility of Light (2009), with another planned for publication in 2020.
Nicole has been awarded le Prix international de la littérature francophone Benjamin Fondane, le Prix du CIÉF for International Francophone Studies, the W.O. Mitchell Prize, and the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize. In 2015, she was included in the dictionary Le Petit Robert des noms propres. In 2018, she was the recipient of the first Violet Prize awarded by the Blue Metropolis Festival. Mauve Desert has been presented as a multidisciplinary creation in 2018 and is slated for an opera adaptation in 2020-21.
In 2019, an anthology of her poetry in Portuguese and a translation of Mauve Desert in Catalan will be published. Her most recent book in English is an art chapbook titled A Cappella with illustrations by Mauricio Corteletti, translated by Erín Moure and Robert Majzels.
“Brightly coloured, sweet and painful, bloody-minded and otherworldly, [this book] achieves the status of legend.”
“Eloquent, oblique, witty, full of light and feeling.…Ondaatje’s knowledge of the fragility and luck of life is very clear. So, too, is the grace and originality of his prose.”
–The New Yorker
“Ondaatje has produced a remarkable book.…Shimmering through the haze of heat and memory is an impressionistic, sometimes surreal portrait of an exotic time and place now gone, a colonial paradise that had its own rhythms and imperatives.”
–Globe and Mail
“A beautiful, luscious book. Michael Ondaatje has depicted his extraordinary family, who delighted in masks and costumes and love affairs that ‘rainbowed over marriages’ in the kind of language that makes glory of their lives. He has gone on a poet’s journey to Sri Lanka (Ceylon), and the reader who travels with him enters a truly magical world.”
–Maxine Hong Kingston
“It sparkles with the intensity and vividness of its multifaceted tales of romance and intrigue.”
–Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“A brilliant, charming, poetic, hyperbolic holiday of a book.…Ondaatje walks the line between fact and fiction with a delicately rendered delight.”
“…the brilliant and moving book he has written is original in every way that matters.”
–W. S. Merwin
“A beautiful, luscious book of discovery and remembrance.”
“With a prose style equal to the voluptuousness of [Ondaatje’s] subject and a sense of humor never too far away, Running in the Family is sheer reading pleasure.”
“It dazzles with its range of imagination, richness of language and the consistently involving changes of mood and tempo.”
“This is an intriguing, funny, dream-like book, impossible to put down.”
–Winnipeg Free Press
“…brief, vivid scenes, moments revived out of remote memories, pictures of the intensities lived by his passionate parents… amid the lush flora, the predatory fauna, and the old-fashioned life of the British colonies. This is great story-telling.…"
From the Hardcover edition.
Other titles by Michael Ondaatje
Other titles by Nicole Brossard
Museum of Bone and Water
All the Feels / Tous les sens
Affect and Writing in Canada / Affect et écriture au Canada
A Nicole Brossard Reader
Writers on Writing in Canada
Regenerations / Régénérations
Canadian Women's Writing / Écriture des femmes au Canada
Fences in Breathing
Mobility of Light
The Poetry of Nicole Brossard