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A Year of Last Things : From the Booker Prize-winning author of The English Patient

Michael Ondaatje
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Vintage Publishing (Jonathan Cape Ltd)
Published: March 21, 2024
ISBN: 9781787335035
128 pages
Country of publication: United Kingdom

£14.99

Born in Sri Lanka during the Second World War, Ondaatje was sent as a child to school in London, and later moved to Canada. While he has lived there since, these poems reflect the life of a writer, traveller and watcher of the world – describing himself as a ‘mongrel’, someone born out of diverse cultures.

Here, rediscovering the influence of every border crossed, he moves back and forth in time, from a childhood in Sri Lanka to Molière’s chair during his last stage performance, from icons in Bulgarian churches to the Californian coast and loved Canadian rivers, merging memory with the present, looking back on a life of displacement and discovery, love and loss. As he writes in the opening poem:

Reading the lines he loves
he slips them into a pocket,
wishes to die with his clothes
full of 
torn-free stanzas
and the telephone numbers
of his children in far cities

Poetry – where language is made to work hardest and burns with a gem-like flame – is what Ondaatje has returned to in this intimate history.

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