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Picture The Great Gatsby with heat, tea plantations, and even more gin and you've got part of Michael Ondaatje's 1982 Running in the Family. Set in Ondaatje's native Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Running begins with the champagne shenanigans of competitively romantic upper-class youths swept up in that first global trend, the Jazz Age: "They all went swimming again with just the modesty of the night. An arm touched a face. A foot touched a stomach. They could have almost drowned or fallen in love." The main characters to emerge from this frolicking set of dancers and drinkers are Ondaatje's parents, and it is upon them that the book turns from moonlit serenades to financial and emotional ruin.
Part travelogue, part family memoir (complete with photographs), part collection of poems, Running is also a poignant autobiography/biography that reimagines the alcoholism of Ondaatje's father Mervyn and the eventual (inevitable?) divorce of his parents. In telling these tall tales, Ondaatje is affectionate and insightful toward a father who was clearly difficult to accommodate in life. Driving intoxicated over a rickety wooden bridge no one else would trust in any condition, Mervyn turns to young Michael to wink and claim, "God loves a drunk."
Running marks the commencement of Ondaatje's growing interest in migration (does running run in the family?). The expatriate characters of Ondaatje's later novels are here presaged by a generation of Ceylonese steaming off to England for education and an enduring love of cricket. Salman Rushdie knows that "the past is a country from which we are all migrants." In Running in the Family, Ondaatje reaches back, inwards, and abroad to map that most treasured and troubled of places, the human heart. --Darryl Whetter
Best known for his novel The English Patient , Ondaatje wrote this 1982 memoir after returning to his native Ceylon. His experiences led to a "you can go home again" reflection on his family and country. "For the outsider, this memoir offers a poignant vision exotic in cultural particulars, familiar in intimate human feelings" ( LJ 11/15/82).
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Vivid descriptions of life in Ceylon before the insurgence and after. An intimate tale of the authors family secrets. Enjoy! A quick read.Published 8 months ago by Suzanne
Ondaatje makes a history of his family's life in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) before leaving when he was a boy sound like a magical story set in a mysterious place. A delightful read!Published 19 months ago by CDNav8r
.....and wanted to immerse myself in the culture.
I now feel that I understand a bit of it.
And had the pleasure of appreciating soo well written text.
I read this book about 15 years ago and now, as I write this review, I recall how much I loved Ondaatje's writing. Read morePublished on Dec 30 2011 by David Sabine
This book was just so enjoyable and hilarious but yet so beautifully written. From the beginning till the end Ondaatje opens up to the reader (in a journal entry) this magical and... Read morePublished on March 18 2002 by Rashanda Davis
In Running in the Family (1982), Ondaatje turns the biographical microscope on himself and his personal family history. Read morePublished on Feb. 11 2001 by A. Gillingham
In this magical book what Micheal captures is the essence of a bygone era. Sri Lanka (Ceylon) also had a generation like Scott Fitzgerald's jazz generation. Read morePublished on Sept. 23 2000