Zenosbooks

(05/19/2008) In The Skin Of A Lion by Michael Ondaatje. New York. 1987. Knopf. keywords: Literature Canada Sri Lanka. 244 pages. Jacket illustration & design by Bascove. 0394563638. September 1987.

Ondaatje is an accomplished writer of beautiful prose and this one is my favorite.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Michael Ondaatje's previous books - THE COLLECTED WORKS OF BILLY THE KID, COMING THROUGH SLAUGHTER, and RUNNING IN THE FAMILY - have earned him the respect and praise of his fellow writers. Now, with his new novel, IN THE SKIN OF A LION, he has written a book that is certain to gain him the wider readership he so richly deserves. We begin with a young girl sitting in a car in the early morning hours. The man beside her is telling her a story, his story - of his boyhood in the Canadian backwoods, of his arrival in the bustling Toronto of the 1920s, of the passionate and fabulous adventures he underwent there. His name is Patrick Lewis, and as his tale unfolds, other people come forward to illuminate his life: the two women - friends, actresses - whom he loved. an elusive millionaire. a charmed thief. a nun blown off a bridge, only to be plucked - in midair - to safety. Each has his or her moment at the center of the story, as it progresses, as it doubles back on itself, as its full meaning and splendor are finally revealed. Combining history and poetry, mythic events and sensual detail, Michael Ondaatje has fashioned a luminous work of the imagination. 'A dazzling novel of power and style, dealing with human situations through verbal cinema. An extraordinary performance on the level - and beyond - of Ondaatje's THE COLLECTED WORKS OF BILLY THE KID and COMING THROUGH SLAUGHTER. He has invented a new form. ' - Leon Edel. 'Michael Ondaatje's fiction is as original and evocative as any being written today. A brilliantly imaginative blend of history, lore, passion and poetry, In the Skin of a Lion is his best book. ' - Russell Banks.

MICHAEL ONDAATJE was born in Sri Lanka. He left there at the age of eleven to go to school in England. He went to Canada in 1962 and now lives in Toronto, where he teaches at Glendon College, York University. His books include a fictional memoir about his family in Sri Lanka, RUNNING IN THE FAMILY; COMING THROUGH SLAUGHTER, a novel based on the life and music of Buddy Bolden; and THE COLLECTED WORKS OF BILLY THE KID. His books of poetry include THERE'S A TRICK WITH A KNIFE I'M LEARNING TO DO and SECULAR LOVE.

 

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