'During certain hours, at certain years in our lives, we see ourselves as remnants from the earlier generations that were destroyed...I think all of our lives have been terribly shaped by what went on before us.' Twenty-five years after leaving his native Sri Lanka for the cool winters of Ontario, a chaotic dream of tropical heat and barking dogs pushes Michael Ondaatje to travel back home and revisit a childhood and a family he never fully understood. Along with his siblings and children, Ondaatje gathers rumours, anecdotes, poems, records and memories to piece together this fragmented portrayal of his family's past, his father's destructive alcoholism and the colourful stories and secrets of ancestors both disgraced and adored throughout centuries of Sri Lankan society. In an exotic, evocative portrait of the heat, wildlife, sounds and silences of the Sri Lankan landscape, Ondaatje combines vivid recreations of a privileged, eccentric older generation with a deeply personal reconciliatory journey in which he explores his own ghosts, and how his family's extraordinary history continues to influence his life.
Michael Ondaatje is the author of five novels, a memoir, a non-fiction book on film and several books of poetry. His novel The English Patient won the Booker Prize; another of his novels, Anil's Ghost, won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize and the Prix Medicis. His most recent book, Divisadero, won the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction 2007. Born in Sri Lanka, he now lives in Toronto.