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|Publisher||McClelland & Stewart, Knopf|
|April 17, 2007|
|ISBN||978-0-7710-6872-0 (McClelland & Stewart)
ISBN 978-0-307-26635-4 (Knopf)
|LC Class||PR9199.3.O5 D58 2007c|
The novel centres on a single father and his children: Anna, his natural daughter; Claire, who was adopted as a baby when Anna was born; and Cooper (Coop), who was taken in "to stay and work on the farm" at the age of four when orphaned. The family lives on a farm in Northern California where Anna and Claire are treated almost as twins, while Cooper is treated more as "a hired hand". After Anna begins a sexual relationship with Coop, an incident of violence tears the family apart. The book then details each of the characters' separate journeys through life post-incident and how they are all interconnected.
Later in her life, Anna moves to France to live in a farmhouse once owned by the French poet Lucien Segura whom she is researching. Meanwhile, Claire works for a law firm in San Francisco while visiting her father on the weekends, and Coop becomes a professional gambler working his way up and down the West Coast of the United States. The second part of the story explores the story of the French poet, which has a number of close parallels to the first part of the story.
Style and structure
The novel starts with Anna as narrator, but some sections have a third person omniscient narrator. It is divided into three parts: One: Anna, Claire and Coop; Two: The family in the cart; Three: The house in Dému.
Ondaatje said in an interview with Ramona Koval that
"I think at the age of 16 or 17 we are almost nothing, I really do think that. We don't think that, but if you look back on yourself—God! Myself at 17 was this callow, callow person. What you become 10 years or 20 years later or more is so much more complicated and good and bad and all these things. So for people to make decisions at that age or people who are judged at that age, it's a terrible thing to happen to them, I think."
He goes on to say that he was exploring how strong this nuclear family is, albeit not blood-related, and how "they have to kind of deal with the rest of their lives with this one moment of trauma".
- Pico Iyer, "'A New Kind of Mongrel Fiction'" The New York Review of Books 54/11 (28 June 2007) : 36-37, 40-41
Awards and nominations
- Ondaatje (2007) Divisadero
- ABC Radio National Book Show, Michael Ondaatje on "Divisadero", 14 May 2007
Peter Behrens, The Law of Dreams
|Governor General's Award for English language fiction recipient
Kate Pullinger, Mistress of Nothing