The Cat's Table

The Cat's Table

3.61 (25,634 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 
3.61 (25,634 ratings by Goodreads)
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In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy boards a huge liner bound for England - a 'castle that was to cross the sea'. At mealtimes, he is placed at the lowly 'Cat's Table' with an eccentric group of grown-ups and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys become involved in the worlds and stories of the adults around them, tumbling from one adventure and delicious discovery to another, 'bursting all over the place like freed mercury'. And at night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner - his crime and fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever.

As the narrative moves from the decks and holds of the ship and the boy's adult years, it tells a spellbinding story about the difference between the magical openness of childhood and the burdens of earned understanding - about a life-long journey that began unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage, when all on board were 'free of the realities of the earth'.

With the ocean liner a brilliant microcosm for the floating dream of childhood, The Cat's Table is a vivid, poignant and thrilling book, full of Ondaatje's trademark set-pieces and breathtaking images: a story told with a child's sense of wonder by a novelist at the very height of his powers.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 144 x 222 x 29mm | 428g
  • Jonathan Cape Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 9780224093613
  • 82,045

Review Text

Grave and playful at the same time, beautifully written and moving.
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Review quote

Part memoir, complete masterpiece... Written with tenderness, wisdom and sharp emotional recall, this is an exuberant elegy to innocence. -- Maggie Fergusson * Intelligent Life * It's impossible to explain through any discussion of plot and character the hypnotic brilliance of The Cat's Table. The joy of boyhood and the darkness at its edges are conveyed in sense of extraordinary imagination... It is entirely... well, Ondaatje-esque. -- Kamila Shamsie * Guardian, Books of the Year * Grave and playful at the same time, beautifully written and moving. * The Times * One of the most admirable and enthralling literary novels of the year -- Harry Ritchie * Daily Mail * Grace, humanity and despairing romance are central to the art of Michael Ondaatje. Although the narrative flutters and sighs and even drifts, this is such an attractive, melancholic and engaging work of connections and disconnections that it does not matter * Irish Times *
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About Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje is the author of several novels, as well as a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. Among his many Canadian and international recognitions, his novel The English Patient won the Booker Prize, and was adapted into a multi-award winning Oscar movie; and Anil's Ghost won the Giller Prize, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and the Prix Medicis. Born in Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje lives in Toronto.
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Rating details

25,634 ratings
3.61 out of 5 stars
5 18% (4,525)
4 40% (10,261)
3 31% (7,866)
2 9% (2,317)
1 3% (665)
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