Michael Ondaatje's picture

Michael Ondaatje

(Philip Michael Ondaatje)
Sri Lanka (b.1943)

Philip Michael Ondaatje, OC, is a Sri Lankan Canadian novelist and poet, perhaps best known for his Booker Prize winning novel adapted into an Academy-Award-winning film, The English Patient.

Although he is best known as a novelist, Ondaatje's work also encompasses memoir, poetry, and film. His semi-fictional memoir of his Sri Lankan childhood is called Running in the Family (1982). He has published thirteen books of poetry, and won the Governor General's Award for two of them: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970) and There's a Trick With a Knife I'm Learning to Do: Poems 1973-1978 (1979).

The Collected Works of Billy the Kid and Coming Through Slaughter have been adapted for the stage and produced in numerous theatrical productions across North America. Ondaatje's three films include a documentary on fellow poet bp nichol, Sons of Captain Poetry, and The Clinton Special: A Film About The Farm Show, which chronicles a collaborative theatre experience led in 1971 by Paul Thompson of Theatre Passe Muraille. In 2002 he published a non-fiction book, The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, which won special recognition at the 2003 American Cinema Editors Awards, as well as a Kraszna-Krausz Book Award for best book of the year on the moving image.

Ondaatje has, since the 1960s, also been involved with Toronto's influential Coach House Books, supporting the independent small press by working as a poetry editor.

In 1988 Michael Ondaatje was made an Officer of the Order of Canada (OC) and two years later became a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

He has two children and is the brother of philanthropist, businessman, and author Christopher Ondaatje.

Genres: Literary Fiction
   The Dainty Monsters (poems) (1967)
   The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (poems) (1970)
   The Broken Ark (poems) (1971)
   Rat Jelly (poems) (1979)
   There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do (poems) (1979)
   Tin roof (poems) (1982)
   Secular Love (poems) (1984)
   Two poems (poems) (1986)
   The Cinnamon Peeler (poems) (1989)
   Elimination Dance (poems) (1991)
   Previous Canoes (poems) (1994)
   Handwriting (poems) (1998)
   Vintage Ondaatje (2004)
   The Story (2006)
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   The English Patient: Screenplay (1996) (with Anthony Minghella)
Anthologies edited
Non fiction
Booker Prize Best Novel winner (1992) : The English Patient
Booker Prize Best Novel nominee (2018) : Warlight
Walter Scott Prize Best Historical Novel nominee (2019) : Warlight

Michael Ondaatje recommends
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In Transit (1988)
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Death and Nightingales (1992)
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The Chrome Suite (1992)
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The Insult (1996)
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The Angel On the Roof (1999)
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"I trust his portrait of America more than any other."
When Dreams Travel (1999)
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"Githa Hariharan's fiction is wonderful - full of subtleties and humour and tenderness."
Vintage Baldwin (2004)
James Baldwin
"If Van Gogh was our 19th-century artist-saint, James Baldwin is our 20th-century one."
The Pages (2008)
Murray Bail
"Murray Bail is the warmest and most quick-witted of storytellers."
The Pyramid (2008)
(Kurt Wallander, book 9)
Henning Mankell
"[A writer] whose works transcend their chosen genre to become thrilling and moral literature."

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