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Authors: Michael Ondaatje

Running in the Family

BOOK: Running in the Family
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Running in the Family:

“It sparkles with the intensity and vividness of its multifaceted tales of romance and intrigue.”


Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“A brilliant, charming, poetic, hyperbolic holiday of a book.… Ondaatje walks the line between fact and fiction with a delicately rendered delight.”


Vancouver Province

“… the brilliant and moving book he has written is original in every way that matters.”

– W. S. Merwin

“A beautiful, luscious book of discovery and remembrance.”


Hamilton Spectator

“With a prose style equal to the voluptuousness of [Ondaatje’s] subject and a sense of humor never too far away,
Running in the Family
is sheer reading pleasure.”


Washington Post

“It dazzles with its range of imagination, richness of language and the consistently involving changes of mood and tempo.”


Toronto Star

“This is an intriguing, funny, dream-like book, impossible to put down.”

– Winnipeg Free Press

“… brief, vivid scenes, moments revived out of remote memories, pictures of the intensities lived by his passionate parents … amid the lush flora, the predatory fauna, and the old-fashioned life of the British colonies. This is great story-telling.…”

– Leon Edel

BOOKS BY MICHAEL ONDAATJE

PROSE
Coming through Slaughter
    1976
Running in the Family
(memoir)   1982
In the Skin of a Lion
   1987
The English Patient
   1992
Anil’s Ghost
   2000
The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film
   2002

POETRY
The Dainty Monsters
   1967
The Man with 7 Toes
   1969
The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
   1970
Rat Jelly
   1973
Elimination Dance
   1976
There’s a Trick with a Knife I’m Learning to Do
   1979
Tin Roof
   1982
Secular Love
   1984
The Cinnamon Peeler
(selected poems)   1992
Handwriting
   1998

ANTHOLOGIES
The Long Poem Anthology
   1967
From Ink Lake: Canadian Stories
   1991
Lost Classics
   2000

Copyright © 1982 by Michael Ondaatje

All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the publisher – or, in case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, a licence from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency – is an infringement of the copyright law.

NATIONAL LIBRARY OF CANADA CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION

Ondaatje, Michael, 1943–
Running in the family

eISBN: 978-0-307-77664-8

1. Ondaatje, Michael, 1943– . 2. Poets, Canadian (English)
– 20th century – Biography.* 3. Sri Lanka – Biography. I. Title.

PS8529.N283Z53 2001 C811′.54 COO-933312-6
PR9199.3.O5Z47 2001

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and that of the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s Ontario Book Initiative. We further acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for our publishing program.

SERIES EDITOR: ELLEN SELIGMAN

EMBLEM EDITIONS
McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
The Canadian Publishers
481 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 2E9
www.mcclelland.com/emblem

v3.1

For Griffin and Quintin
.
For Gillian, Janet, and Christopher
.

“I saw in this island fowls as big as our country geese having two heads … and other miraculous things which I will not here write of.”

Oderic (Franciscan Friar, 14th century)

“The Americans were able to put a man on the moon because they knew English. The Sinhalese and Tamils whose knowledge of English was poor, thought that the earth was flat.”

Douglas Amarasekera,
Ceylon Sunday Times
29.1.78

CONTENTS

Drought since December
.

All across the city men roll carts with ice clothed in sawdust. Later on, during a fever, the drought still continuing, his nightmare is that thorn trees in the garden send their hard roots underground towards the house climbing through windows so they can drink sweat off his body, steal the last of the saliva off his tongue
.

He snaps on the electricity just before daybreak. For twenty five years he has not lived in this country, though up to the age of eleven he slept in rooms like this—with no curtains, just delicate bars across the windows so no one could break in. And the floors of red cement polished smooth, cool against bare feet
.

Dawn through a garden. Clarity to leaves, fruit, the dark yellow of the King Coconut. This delicate light is allowed only a brief moment of the day. In ten minutes the garden will lie in a blaze of heat, frantic with noise and butterflies
.

Half a page—and the morning is already ancient
.

ASIAN RUMOURS

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