Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje’s books include Anil’s Ghost and The English Patient.

Poem: ‘The Leg Glance’

Michael Ondaatje, 9 June 2022

The dangers of the subjunctive moodwhen love affairs are still all coal and smoke

and gestures focus on almost stationary details,a thistle, the moon, an unexpected thrush

In the basic architecture of cricket (apartfrom its medieval tone) is the almost sultryskill of the leg glance, that involves‘a very short parlay with the head’as Ranjitsinhji said, misquoting Jane Austen

and not...

Two Poems

Michael Ondaatje, 20 August 1998

House on a Red Cliff

There is no mirror in Mirissa

the sea is in the leaves the waves are in the palms

old languages in the arms of the casuarina pineparampara

parampara, from generation to generation

The flamboyant a grandfather planted having lived through fire lifts itself over the roof


the house an open net

where the night concentrates on a breath...

The Runaways: Michael Ondaatje

Tessa Hadley, 8 November 2018

If you took​ only the subject matter of Michael Ondaatje’s novels into account, you would expect him to be an austere and even punishing writer. He chooses the darkest material,...

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Onion-Pilfering: Michael Ondaatje

Brian Dillon, 13 December 2007

On the Petaluma Road, in the former Gold Rush territory of Northern California, a man inherits a farm, marries a miner’s daughter called Lydia Mendez and adopts a four-year-old boy from a...

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Even Michael Ondaatje’s most ardent admirers admit that there’s an act of faith involved in reading his work. Words like ‘precious’, ‘portentous’, ‘a...

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Ways of being a man

Nicholas Spice, 24 September 1992

Can a penis sleep like a sea horse? The question arrests us on the first page of The English Patient:   Every four days she washes his black body, beginning at the destroyed feet ... ...

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World’s End

John Sutherland, 1 October 1987

After the autobiographical candour of Empire of the Sun, J.G. Ballard returns to his familiar austere impersonality with The Day of Creation. Superficially, this latest terminal vision recalls...

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