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Summary

In the late 1970s Ondaatje returned to his native island of Sri Lanka. As he records his journey through the drug-like heat and intoxicating fragrances of that "pendant off the ear of India", Ondaatje simultaneously retraces the baroque mythology of his Dutch-Ceylonese family. An inspired travel narrative and family memoir by an exceptional writer.

©1982 Michael Ondaatje (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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Evocative, sad and elusive search for Family

Having just listened to Warlight, whose melancholy, painterly landscapes I grasped for a moment, then lost as they slipped away, I went searching for more insight.
This memoir was it.
Inchoate families abound as do children who attempt to live within them. As respectfully as possible, the author daubs another shape shifting canvas with a family fragment here, a story there and always, a heart rending use of language to paint it in.
There could not be a dry eye as one after another of the outlines of a Father not known melt away amidst time and memory.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-08-18

A deep stream...

I read this book in print many years ago, and never forgot it. When it became available on Audible, read by Ondaatje himself, I jumped on it. His reading opens quite another dimension of the book - I feel that now I can hear the voice at its heart. I remembered many images from my earlier reading - strange, ironic, often amusing - and not so amusing - vignettes from his family's story. Now I hear them again in a fresh - and in a sense a truer - light, as the author is reading.
Listening to this book is like drinking from a deep spring - something I find with all of Ondaatje's books and poems. Nourishing, inspiring, and something to keep close at hand for the duration.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 23-01-20

Wanted to like it

I really wanted to like this book. I wanted to learn what life is/was like in Sri Lanka. But I could never catch hold of the narrative or follow a plot line. The book was made up of disjointed stories or snippets of memory of not just the author but his parents and grandparents too. It was so disjointed I only finished it when I gave up trying to make any sense of it and used the soothing voice of the author/narrator as background noise.

In case you're still interested, I would suggest a Sri Lanka map. The author assumes some geographic knowledge of the country and the little I did get out of some of the stories was helped greatly by my travel book for my trip to Sri Lanka in a few months.

I am sure an English professor somewhere or a more sophisticated reader would get a lot out of this book. I wish that was me, but it is not.

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  • Holly
  • 22-07-21

Amazing!!

Literally the best in EVERY WAY. The authors voice and nuance, the poetic turn of the prose and the really interesting underlying stories in this personal history- make this my favorite audiobook I’ve ever listened to. A beautiful powerhouse.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-08-20

Childhood and memories of Ceylon

A beautifully written and read book by Ondaatje. Interesting about the history, complicated family, poetic.