Philip Michael OndaatjeOC (/ɒnˈdɑː/; born 12 September 1943), is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian novelist and poet. He won the Booker Prize for his novel The English Patient (1992), which was adapted as the 1996 film of the same name.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Ondaatje was born in ColomboSri Lanka (then Ceylon) of Burgherancestry in 1943 and moved to England in 1954. He attendedDulwich College.[1] After relocating to Canada in 1962, Ondaatje became a Canadian citizen. He studied at Bishop's College Schooland Bishop's University in LennoxvilleQuebec for some time. He then moved to Toronto, where he received his BA from theUniversity of Toronto and his MA from Queen's University, KingstonOntario.

He began teaching at the University of Western Ontario in London. In 1970, he settled in Toronto. From 1971 to 1990, he taught English literature at York University and Glendon College.

Work[edit | edit source]

Ondaatje's work includes fiction, autobiography, poetry and film. He has published 13 books of poetry, and won the Governor General's Award for The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970) and There's a Trick With a Knife I'm Learning to Do: Poems 1973–1978 (1979). Anil's Ghost (2000) was the winner of the 2000 Giller Prize, the Prix Médicis, the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, the 2001 Irish Times International Fiction Prize and Canada'sGovernor General's AwardThe English Patient (1992) won the Booker Prize, the Canada Australia Prize, and the Governor General's Award. It was adapted as a motion picture, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture and multiple other awards. In the Skin of a Lion (1987), a novel about early immigrant settlers in Toronto, was the winner of the 1988 City of Toronto Book Award, finalist for the 1987 Ritz Paris Hemingway Award for best novel of the year in English, and winner of the firstCanada Reads competition in 2002. Coming Through Slaughter (1976), is a novel set inNew Orleans, Louisiana circa 1900, loosely based on the lives of jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden and photographer E. J. Bellocq. It was the winner of the 1976 Books in Canada First Novel AwardDivisadero won the 2007 Governor General's AwardRunning in the Family (1982) is a semi-fictional memoir of his Sri Lankan childhood.

Adaptations[edit | edit source]

The Collected Works of Billy the KidComing Through Slaughter and Divisadero have been adapted for the stage and produced in theatrical productions across North America and Europe. In addition to The English Patient adaptation, Ondaatje's films include a documentary on fellow poet B.P. NicholSons of Captain Poetry, and The Clinton Special: A Film About The Farm Show, which chronicles a collaborative theatre experience led in 1971 by Paul Thompson ofTheatre Passe Muraille. In 2002, Ondaatje published a non-fiction book, The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, which won special recognition at the 2003 American Cinema Editors Awards, as well as a Kraszna-Krausz Book Award for best book of the year on the moving image.

Honors[edit | edit source]

On 11 July 1988, Ondaatje was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.[2] In 2005, he was honored with Sri Lanka Ratna by the former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Sri Lanka Ratna is the highest honor given by the Government of Sri Lanka for foreign nationals.

Public stand[edit | edit source]

In April 2015, Ondaatje was one of several members of PEN American Center who individually withdrew as literary hosts when the organization gave its annual Freedom of Expression Courage award to Charlie Hebdo. The award came in the wake of the fatal shooting attack on the magazine's Paris offices in January 2015.[3]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Since the 1960s, Ondaatje has been involved with Toronto's Coach House Books, supporting the independent small press by working as a poetry editor. Ondaatje and his wife Linda Spalding, a novelist and academic, co-edit Brick, A Literary Journal, withMichael RedhillMichael Helm, and Esta Spalding. In 1988, Ondaatje was made an Officer of the Order of Canada (OC) and two years later a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Ondaatje serves on the board of trustees of theGriffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry.[4]

Ondaatje has two children. His brother Christopher Ondaatje is a philanthropist, businessman and author. Ondaatje's nephew David Ondaatje is a film director and screenwriter, who made the 2009 film The Lodger.[5]

Books[edit | edit source]

Novels[edit | edit source]

Poetry collections[edit | edit source]

  • 1962: Social Call, The Love Story, In Search of Happiness, all featured in The Mitre: Lennoxville: Bishop University Press[6]
  • 1967: The Dainty Monsters, Toronto: Coach House Press[6]
  • 1969: The Man with Seven Toes, Toronto: Coach House Press[6]
  • 1970: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-Handed Poems (also see "Other" section, 1973, below), Toronto: Anansi[6ISBN 0-88784-018-3 ; New York: Berkeley, 1975
  • 1973: Rat Jelly, Toronto: Coach House Press[6]
  • 1978: Elimination Dance/La danse eliminatoire, Ilderton: Nairn Coldstream; revised edition, Brick, 1980[6]
  • 1979: There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do: Poems, 1963-1978, New York: W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1979[6ISBN 0-393-01191-7ISBN 0-393-01200-X
    • published as Rat Jelly, and Other Poems, 1963-1978, London, United Kingdom: Marion Boyars, 1980[6]
  • 1984: Secular Love, Toronto: Coach House Press, ISBN 0-88910-288-0ISBN 0-393-01991-8 ; New York: W. W. Norton, 1985[6]
  • 1986: All along the Mazinaw: Two Poems (broadside), Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Woodland Pattern[6]
  • 1986: Two Poems, Woodland Pattern, Milwaukee, Wisconsin[6]
  • 1989: The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems, London, United Kingdom: Pan; New York: Knopf, 1991[6]
  • 1998: Handwriting, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart; New York: Knopf, 1999[6ISBN 0-375-40559-3
  • 2006: The Story, Toronto: House of Anansi, ISBN 0-88784-194-5[6]

Editor[edit | edit source]

  • 1971: The Broken Ark, animal verse; Ottawa: Oberon; revised as A Book of Beasts, 1979[6ISBN 0-88750-050-1
  • 1977: Personal Fictions: Stories by Munro, Wiebe, Thomas, and Blaise, Toronto: Oxford University Press[6ISBN 0-19-540277-4
  • 1979: A Book of Beasts, animal verse; Ottawa: Oberon; revision of The Broken Ark, 1971[6]
  • 1979: The Long Poem Anthology, Toronto: Coach House[6ISBN 0-88910-177-9
  • 1989: With Russell Banks and David YoungBrushes with Greatness: An Anthology of Chance Encounters with Greatness, Toronto: Coach House, 1989[6]
  • 1989: Edited with Linda SpaldingThe Brick Anthology, illustrated by David Bolduc, Toronto: Coach House Press[6]
  • 1990: From Ink Lake: An Anthology of Canadian Short Stories; New York: Viking[6ISBN 0-394-28138-1
  • 1990: The Faber Book of Contemporary Canadian Short Stories; London, United Kingdom: Faber[6]
  • 2000: Edited with Michael Redhill, Esta Spalding and Linda Spalding, Lost Classics, Toronto: Knopf Canada ISBN 0-676-97299-3 ; New York: Anchor, 2001
  • 2002: Edited and wrote introduction, Mavis Gallant, Paris Stories, New York: New York Review Books[6]

Other[edit | edit source]

  • 1970: Leonard Cohen (literary criticism), Toronto: McClelland & Stewart[6]
  • 1973: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (play; based on his poetry; see "Poetry" section, 1970, above), produced in Stratford, Ontario; produced in New York, 1974; produced in London, England, 1984[6]
  • 1979: Claude Glass (literary criticism), Toronto: Coach House Press[6]
  • 1980: Coming through Slaughter (play based on his novel; see "Novels" section, 1976, above), first produced in Toronto[6]
  • 1982: Running in the Family, memoir, New York: W. W. Norton,[6ISBN 0-393-01637-4ISBN 0-7710-6884-0
  • 1982: Tin Roof, British Columbia, Canada: Island,[6ISBN 0-919479-10-3ISBN 0-919479-93-6
  • 1987: In the Skin of a Lion (based on his novel), New York: Knopf[6]
  • 1994: Edited with B. P. Nichol and George BoweringAn H in the Heart: A Reader, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart[6]
  • 1996: Wrote introduction, Anthony Minghella, adaptor, The English Patient: A Screenplay, New York: Hyperion Miramax[6]
  • 2002: The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, New York: Knopf[6ISBN 0-676-97474-0
  • 2002: Films by Michael Ondaatje[7]
  • 2004: Vintage Ondaatje,[6ISBN 1-4000-7744-3
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