Campus News

Michael Ondaatje, bestselling author of The English Patient, to read at UGA

Athens, Ga. – Acclaimed writer Michael Ondaatje, bestselling author of The English Patient, will read from his work March 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the University of Georgia Chapel. The event, sponsored by UGA’s Creative Writing Program, the President’s Venture Fund, the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, Regents Professor of English Judith Ortiz Cofer and the Department of English, is free and open to the public.

Ondaatje is one of the world’s foremost writers.Although he is best known as a novelist, his work also encompasses memoir, poetry and film.He is the author of numerous collections of poetry including The Cinnamon Peeler (1991) and most recently, Handwriting (1999).His works of fiction include: Anil’s Ghost (2000), The English Patient (1992), In the Skin of a Lion (1987), Coming Through Slaughter (1976) and The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970).In his novel The English Patient-later made into an Academy Award-winning film-he explores the stories of four diverse lives intersecting at the end of World War II. Ondaatje’s most recent nonfiction work is The Conversations: Walter Murch & the Art of Editing Film (2004), and his latest novel is Divisadero (2007).

Born in Sri Lanka in 1943, Ondaatje attended school in England before moving to Canada in 1962. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto and master’s degree from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, he taught at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, and later, at York University and Glendon College in Toronto.

In 1992, Ondaatje received the British Commonwealth’s highest literary honor, the Booker Prize.Other awards for his work include the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, the Prix Medicis, the Governor-General’s Award and the Giller Prize for his novel Anil’s Ghost.

From his Governor-General’s Award-winning book of poetry, There’s a Trick With a Knife I’m Learning To Do, Poems: 1963-1978 (1979), to his classic novel, The English Patient, Ondaatje has influenced generations of writers and readers.Whitney Balliett of The New Yorker notes that “each of his books is filled with passages of such finesse and vividness that they become part of us.”She describes Ondaatje as “a writer whose best paragraphs hover just over the page, then fly into the mind.”Regarding the memoir Running in the Family, Gary Kamiya of Salon writes, “Those who marvel at the luxurious energy of Michael Ondaatje’s imagination, the muscular exuberance of his storytelling, the gem-like intelligence of his language, may not be surprised to learn that his own family history has been as fantastic as his prose… As Ondaatje explores his Dutch-Ceylonese genealogy, he paints a sad, hilarious, unforgettable picture of lives lived to a surreal tropical hilt…”Author Diane Wakoski notes that his work moves “in and out of imagined landscape, portrait and documentary, anecdote or legend, Ondaatje writes for the eye and ear simultaneously.”

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