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Description - In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje

'A magical book. Michael Ondaatje defies the normal distinction between poet and novelist. His writing is consistently tuned to a visionary pitch' Graham Swift It is the 1920s, and Patrick Lewis has arrived in the bustling city of Toronto, leaving behind his Canadian wilderness home. He immerses himself in the lives of the people who surround him, learning, from their stories, the history of the city itself. And he has his own adventures: searching for a missing millionaire, tunnelling beneath Lake Ontario, falling in love. In the Skin of a Lion is Michael Ondaatje's sparkling predecessor to his Booker Prize-winning The English Patient. It is here that we encounter, for the first time, Hana the orphaned girl and Caravaggio the thief, among a large cast of characters who are all lovingly and intimately portrayed. It is an exquiste and musical novel, a romance that challenges the boundary between history and myth. 'Ondaatje writes in curves, in time-lapses, a sort of verbal cinema whose narrative is unfaltering' The Times 'A triumph ...a powerful and revelatory accomplishment' Times Literary Supplement

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780330301831
ISBN-10: 0330301837
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 17mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: Picador
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publish Date: 5-Aug-1988
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje

UK Kirkus Review » This is a lyrical testament to labourers and lovers from the Booker-winning author of The English Patient; Ondaatje paints a world of shadows and magical movement, of midnight skaters clutching fire, of moths darting and touching, of worlds laden with a meaning just out of reach. But somewhere there is order, 'very faint, very human'. Pure joy. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A lyric and sometimes surreal novel by the Canadian poet and writer Ondaatje (author of the remarkable poetry volume The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, 1974; and the novel about Buddy Bolden, Coming through Slaughter, 1977) that may remind readers of certain of the more captivating aspects of, say, Ragtime. Ondaatje's setting is Toronto and environs from pre-WW I years up to 1938, and his emerging (but not only) theme is the labor and union movement among immigrant workers. In segments that read much like stories themselves, the reader meets a boy named Patrick Lewis, whose father is a dynamiter for lumber companies in backwoods Canada, then follows Patrick as he later goes to big-city Toronto and becomes (in 1924) a "searcher" for the missing capitalist and ruthless millionaire Ambrose Small. As part of his search - conducted (as is the whole of the book) amid a pleasurable wealth of period atmosphere and detail - Patrick meets and falls in love with Ambrose Small's actress-mistress, Clara Dickens; and then, when Clara Dickens "must" return to the somewhere-still-existing Small (in one of the novel's more surreal sections), Patrick falls in love with Clara's best friend, Alice Gull. The reader will learn in time that Alice is in fact the nun who was thought to have disappeared after falling from a new bridge back in 1917 (though in fact she was caught in mid-air by an immigrant worker), and, in her new incarnation as actress and lover, she will seek to radicalize Patrick Lewis, who himself now works as a laborer for the city's vast and grandiose new waterworks project. The radicalizing will succeed, though something terrible will happen to Alice, and, in between, there will be side stories - colorful, imagistic, and often lovely - about union martyrs and labor pioneers. If there are flaws here, they lie in the minor hints of a history-lesson tendentiousness, but a poetically energized grace and a perfected and rich inventiveness remain the greater marks of this talented writer. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Michael Ondaatje

Booker Prize-winning novelist Michael Ondaatje is the author of ten collections of poetry and four books of fiction. He and his wife live in Toronto.

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