The English Patient
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The English Patient

By (author) Michael Ondaatje

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Michael Ondaatje's three previous novels have each been met with the highest praise: for their startling narrative inventiveness, the richness of their imagery and emotion, and the spellbinding quality of their language. When "In the Skin of a Lion" was published in 1987, Carolyn Kizer, writing in "The New York Times Book Review," called Ondaatje "a beautiful writer... brilliantly gifted." And Tom Clark wrote in the "San Francisco Chronicle" that "Ondaatje handles fiction with the deceptive touch of a magician." Now, with "The English Patient," he gives us his most stunningly original and lyric novel yet. During the final moments of World War II, in a deserted Italian villa, four people come together: a young nurse, her will broken, all her energy focused on her last, dying patient, a man in whom she has seen something "she wanted to learn, to grow into and hide in.".. the patient: an unknown Englishman, survivor of a plane crash, his mind awash with a life's worth of secrets and passions ... a thief whose "skills" have made him one of the war's heroes, and one of its casualties ... an Indian soldier in the British army, an expert at bomb disposal whose three years at war have taught him that "the only thing safe is himself." Slowly, they begin to reveal themselves to each other, the stories of their pasts and of the present unfolding in scene after haunting scene, taking us into the Sahara, the English countryside, down the streets of London during the Blitz, into the makeshift army hospitals of Italy, and through the battered gardens and rooms of the villa. And with these stories, Ondaatje weaves a complex tapestry of image and emotion, recollection and observation: the paths anddetails of four diverse lives caught and changed and now inextricably connected by the brutal, improbable circumstances of war.

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  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 129.54 x 200.66 x 17.78mm | 226.8g
  • 31 Dec 1996
  • Random House USA Inc
  • New York
  • English
  • Reissue
  • 0679745203
  • 9780679745204
  • 81,397

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Author Information

Michael Ondaatje is the author of four previous novels, a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. "The English Patient "won the Booker Prize and was an Academy Award-winning film; "Anil s Ghost "won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Giller Prize, and the Prix Medicis. Born in Sri Lanka, Ondaatje now lives in Toronto."

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Review quote

"A rare and spellbinding web of dreams." "Time" "Sensuous, mysterious, rhapsodic, it transports the reader to another world . . . . Ondaatje's most probing examination yet of the nature of identity." "San Francisco Chronicle" "Mr. Ondaatje [is] one of North America's finest novelists . . . . The spell of his haunted villa remains with us, inviting us to reread passages for the pure pleasure of being there." "Wall Street Journal""

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Flap copy

The Booker Prize-winning novel, now a critically acclaimed major motion picture, starring Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe and Kristin Scott Thomas. With ravishing beauty and unsettling intelligence, Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an Italian villa at the end of World War II. Hana, the exhausted nurse; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burned man who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminates this book like flashes of heat lightening.

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