Ondaatje speaking at Tulane University, 2010
|Born||Philip Michael Ondaatje
12 September 1943
|Alma mater||University of Toronto
|Notable awards||Governor General's Award - Poetry
Prix Médicis étranger
Order of Canada
St. Louis Literary Award
Philip Michael Ondaatje, CC FRSL (//; born 12 September 1943), is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian poet, novelist, editor and filmmaker. He is the recipient of multiple literary awards such as the Governor General's Award, the Giller Prize, the Booker Prize, and the Prix Médicis étranger. Ondaatje is also an Officer of the Order of Canada, recognizing him as one of Canada's most renowned living authors, along with others like Margaret Atwood.
Ondaatje's literary career began with his poetry in 1967, publishing the books The Dainty Monsters, and then in 1970 the critically acclaimed The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. However, he is more recently recognized for his nationally and internationally successful novel The English Patient (1992), which was adapted into a film in 1996.
In addition to his literary writing, Ondaatje has been an important force in "fostering new Canadian writing" with two decades commitment to Coach House Press (around 1970-90), and his editorial credits on Canadian literary projects like the journal Brick, and the Long Poem Anthology (1979), among others.
Early life and education
Ondaatje was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon, in 1943; and is of Dutch, Sinhalese, and Tamil ancestry. His parents separated when he was just an infant, subsequently living with relatives until 1954 when he joined his mother in England. While in England, Ondaatje pursued secondary education at Dulwich College, but shortly after immigrated to Montreal, Quebec in 1962. After relocating to Canada, Ondaatje studied at Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec for three years. However, in his final year he went on to the University of Toronto where he received a Bachelor of Arts in 1965. In 1967, he received a Master of Arts from Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario.
After his formal schooling, Ondaatje began teaching English at the University of Western Ontario in London. In 1971, reluctant to get his Ph.D, he left the position at Western and continued teaching English literature at Glendon College, York University.
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's Governor General's Award. The 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 first Canada Reads competition in 2002.
Coming Through Slaughter (1976), is a novel set in New 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 Award. Running in the Family (1982) is a semi-fictional memoir of his Sri Lankan childhood.
The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Coming 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. Nichol, Sons 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 of Theatre 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.
On 11 July 1988, Ondaatje was made an Officer of the Order of Canada which was later upgraded to grade of companion in 2016, the highest level of the order. In 2005, he was honoured with Sri Lanka Ratna by the former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Sri Lanka Ratna is the highest honour given by the Government of Sri Lanka for foreign nationals.
In 2016 a new species of spider, Brignolia ondaatjei, discovered in Sri Lanka, was named after him.
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.
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, with Michael Redhill, Michael 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 has served on the board of trustees of the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry since 2000.
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.
- 1976: Coming Through Slaughter (also see "Other" section, 1980, below), Toronto: Anansi ISBN 0-393-08765-4 ; New York: W. W. Norton, 1977
- 1987: In the Skin of a Lion, New York: Knopf, ISBN 0-394-56363-8, ISBN 0-14-011309-6
- 1992: The English Patient, New York: Knopf, ISBN 0-679-41678-1, ISBN 0-679-74520-3
- 2000: Anil's Ghost, New York: Knopf, ISBN 0-375-41053-8
- 2007: Divisadero, ISBN 0-307-26635-4 ISBN 9780307266354
- 2011: The Cat's Table, ISBN 978-0-7710-6864-5, ISBN 0-7710-6864-6
- 1962: Social Call, The Love Story, In Search of Happiness, all featured in The Mitre: Lennoxville: Bishop University Press
- 1967: The Dainty Monsters, Toronto: Coach House Press
- 1969: The Man with Seven Toes, Toronto: Coach House Press
- 1970: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-Handed Poems (also see "Other" section, 1973, below), Toronto: Anansi ISBN 0-88784-018-3 ; New York: Berkeley, 1975
- 1973: Rat Jelly, Toronto: Coach House Press
- 1978: Elimination Dance/La danse eliminatoire, Ilderton: Nairn Coldstream; revised edition, Brick, 1980
- 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 ISBN 0-393-01191-7, ISBN 0-393-01200-X
- published as Rat Jelly, and Other Poems, 1963-1978, London, United Kingdom: Marion Boyars, 1980
- 1984: Secular Love, Toronto: Coach House Press, ISBN 0-88910-288-0, ISBN 0-393-01991-8 ; New York: W. W. Norton, 1985
- 1986: All along the Mazinaw: Two Poems (broadside), Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Woodland Pattern
- 1986: Two Poems, Woodland Pattern, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- 1989: The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems, London, United Kingdom: Pan; New York: Knopf, 1991
- 1998: Handwriting, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart; New York: Knopf, 1999 ISBN 0-375-40559-3
- 2006: The Story, Toronto: House of Anansi, ISBN 0-88784-194-5
- 1971: The Broken Ark, animal verse; Ottawa: Oberon; revised as A Book of Beasts, 1979 ISBN 0-88750-050-1
- 1977: Personal Fictions: Stories by Munro, Wiebe, Thomas, and Blaise, Toronto: Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-540277-4
- 1979: A Book of Beasts, animal verse; Ottawa: Oberon; revision of The Broken Ark, 1971
- 1979: The Long Poem Anthology, Toronto: Coach House ISBN 0-88910-177-9
- 1989: With Russell Banks and David Young, Brushes with Greatness: An Anthology of Chance Encounters with Greatness, Toronto: Coach House, 1989
- 1989: Edited with Linda Spalding, The Brick Anthology, illustrated by David Bolduc, Toronto: Coach House Press
- 1990: From Ink Lake: An Anthology of Canadian Short Stories; New York: Viking ISBN 0-394-28138-1
- 1990: The Faber Book of Contemporary Canadian Short Stories; London, United Kingdom: Faber
- 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
- 1970: Leonard Cohen (literary criticism), Toronto: McClelland & Stewart
- 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
- 1979: Claude Glass (literary criticism), Toronto: Coach House Press
- 1980: Coming through Slaughter (play based on his novel; see "Novels" section, 1976, above), first produced in Toronto
- 1982: Running in the Family, memoir, New York: W. W. Norton, ISBN 0-393-01637-4, ISBN 0-7710-6884-0
- 1982: Tin Roof, British Columbia, Canada: Island, ISBN 0-919479-10-3, ISBN 0-919479-93-6
- 1987: In the Skin of a Lion (based on his novel), New York: Knopf
- 1994: Edited with B. P. Nichol and George Bowering, An H in the Heart: A Reader, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart
- 1996: Wrote introduction, Anthony Minghella, adaptor, The English Patient: A Screenplay, New York: Hyperion Miramax
- 2002: The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, New York: Knopf ISBN 0-676-97474-0
- 2002: Films by Michael Ondaatje
- 2004: Vintage Ondaatje, ISBN 1-4000-7744-3
- Thesen, Sharon. "Michael Ondaatje". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
- "Michael Ondaatje - Literature". literature.britishcouncil.org. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
- "Michael Ondaatje." In An Anthology of Canadian Literature in English, edited by Donna Bennett and Russell Brown, 928-30. 3rd ed. Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press, 2010.
- Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek (January 2005). Comparative Cultural Studies and Michael Ondaatje's Writing. Purdue University Press. pp. 6–. ISBN 978-1-55753-378-4.
- "(Philip) Michael Ondaatje." In Gale Online Encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale, 2016. Literature Resource Center (accessed November 30, 2016)
- "Michael Ondaatje’s Passage From Ceylon". New York Times, By LIESL SCHILLINGER OCT. 14, 2011
- "How Michael Ondaatje and Daniel Brooks made 'Divisadero' into a play". Kate Taylor, Toronto — The Globe and Mail, Feb. 04, 2011
- "Michael Ondaatje". The Morning News, by Robert Birnbaum
- "Order of Canada: Michael Ondaatje, O.C., M.A.", Governor General of Canada website.
- "Governor General Announces 100 New Appointments to the Order of Canada as Canada Turns 150". The Governor General of Canada His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
- "New spider species named for Michael Ondaatje". Shyam Selvadurai CBC Books. August 10, 2016
- Schuessler, Jennifer, "Six PEN Members Decline Gala After Award for Charlie Hebdo", New York Times, 26 April 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-07.
- "C$80,000 Griffin Poetry Prize Launched by Renowned Literary Figures: Margaret Atwood, Robert Hass, Michael Ondaatje, Robin Robertson and David Young", griffinpoetryprize.com, September 6, 2000.
- "The Lodger forces out a remake of a remake", Village Voice, 21 January 2009
- Web page titled "Archive: Michael Ondaatje (1943- )" at the Poetry Foundation website, accessed 7 May 2008
- "Michael Ondaatje: The divided man". The Guardian, Robert McCrum, 28 August 2011
- Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for Michael Ondaatje's "The Cinnamon Peeler". Gale, Cengage Learning. pp. 3–. ISBN 978-1-4103-4284-3.
- Films by Michael Ondaatje
- Comparative Cultural Studies and Michael Ondaatje's Writing. Ed. Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2005. ISBN 1-55753-378-4
- Barbour, Douglas. Michael Ondaatje. New York: Twayne, 1993. ISBN 0-8057-8290-7
- Jewinski, Ed. Michael Ondaatje: Express Yourself Beautifully. Toronto: ECW, 1994. ISBN 1-55022-189-2
- Tötösy de Zepetnek, Steven (斯蒂文·托托西演). 文学研究的合法化: 一种新实用主义 ·整体化和经主 义文学与文化研究方法 (Legitimizing the Study of Literature: A New Pragmatism and the Systemic Approach to Literature and Culture). Trans. Ma Jui-ch'i (马瑞琪翻). Beijing: Peking University Press, 1997. 111-34. ISBN 7-301-03482-2
- Tötösy de Zepetnek, Steven. "Cultures, Peripheralities, and Comparative Literature." Comparative Literature: Theory, Method, Application. By Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1998. 150-65. ISBN 90-420-0534-3
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Michael Ondaatje.|
- Jane Henderson (May 2, 2016). "Ondaatje wins St. Louis Literary Award". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
- Works by or about Michael Ondaatje in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Michael Ondaatje at the Internet Movie Database
- "I came from a tussle with the sea": An interview with Michael Ondaatje, in Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts (24.2)
- Full text of The Dainty Monsters
- "Adventures in the Skin Trade" PEN World Voices at LIVE from the New York Public Library. 4 May 2008 (Video, 1hr, 6 min)
- Transcript of interview with Ramona Koval on The Book Show, ABC Radio National on Divisadero recorded in Montreal, April 2007.
- Profile. Emory University
- Order of Canada Citation
- Interview With Ondaatje, Salon, November 1996