Running in the Family


From the Publisher:

In the late 1970s Ondaatje returned to his native island of Sri Lanka. As he records his journey through the drug-like heat and intoxicating fragrances of that “pendant off the ear of India,” Ondaatje simultaneously retraces the baroque mythology of his Dutch-Ceylonese family.

…an inspired travel narrative and family memoir by an exceptional writer.

The cover of Running in the Family drew me in when I saw it on the shelf at the library.  I’ve liked the books I’ve read by Michael Ondaatje The English Patient and Anil’s Ghost.  This book is a memoir, but written with poetic fancy.  He is a poet above all else, and his writing is infused with evocative description and emotional landscapes painted with poetic precision.  It’s unlike any memoir I’ve ever read.  The cover painting by Paul Gauguin was a perfect choice for this book because the memories inside are just  as beautifully impressionistic. And what a family history!  If we could all go back and take such a look at those who have gone before us…  If we could all express the poetry of who we are and where we have come from as eloquently as Ondaatje…

“A beautiful, luscious book…the reader who travels with Ondaatje enters a truly magical world.”   ~Maxine Hong Kingston


7 thoughts on “Running in the Family

  1. Jennifer Dee

    I love the cover of this book. I do think what is on the cover of a book. Thank you for this post I must give this book a try.


  2. Nymeth

    I keep hearing about how beautiful his writing is, but The English Patient intimidates me a bit for some reason. But this definitely appeals to me!


  3. Robin Post author

    Nancy, I agree–his writing style is so beautiful and there was a lot of humor as well as pathos in his stories of those family members.

    Kailana, it’s a very interesting and unusual book to read. I think you’d enjoy it.

    Tabor, I love travel books, too, and this one was quite fascinating. Much of what you learn about his trip to Sri Lanka was sensory. You can feel the heat and smell the cinnamon!

    Jennifer, I love the cover, too, and searched all over to find a photo of the painting it was taken from. Couldn’t find it! I’m still looking! It really was a perfect choice for the cover of this story.

    Nymeth, this would be an interesting start for getting to know his writing, although I was completely captured by the story of The English Patient, and I think you would really like it.

    Bybee, I’m going to have to think seriously about doing the Canadian Challenge… I’ve been trying not to take on any more challenges at this point because I really overdid it earlier in the year. But this Canadian Challenge keeps calling to me.



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