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The time around scars: Michael Ondaatje on his life and work


Filed under: Fiction

Michael Ondaatje in conversation with Fiammetta Rocco.

Preoccupied with memory and place, both physical and emotional, Michael Ondaatje was recently described by the Guardian as ‘one of the most innovative and liberating writers of our time’. His reach is as international as his early life. Born in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1943, he was educated in England, before moving to Canada, where he now lives. He has said that ‘every book has to find a new form’, and his refusal to bow to convention has produced a richly varied oeuvre, taking in poetry, prose and drama, translated into more than forty languages. His novels include The English Patient, a study of identity and desire that won the Booker Prize, and, most recently, The Cat’s Table, which blends real and imagined lives to tell a story at once autobiographical and fictional. In a conversation interwoven with readings, he talks to Fiammetta Rocco, editor of Books and Arts for The Economist about his life and work.

Recorded on Monday 18 June 2012 at Canada House.


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Michael Ondaatje 2012