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Running in the Family Paperback – Nov 1 1993

4.7 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Paperback, Nov 1 1993
CDN$ 126.98 CDN$ 0.01

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Product details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: New Canadian Library; First Edition edition (Nov. 1 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771098952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771098956
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 1.2 x 17.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 91 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #763,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From Amazon

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


“Brightly coloured, sweet and painful, bloody-minded and otherworldly, [this book] achieves the status of legend.”
–Margaret Atwood

“Eloquent, oblique, witty, full of light and feeling.…Ondaatje’s knowledge of the fragility and luck of life is very clear. So, too, is the grace and originality of his prose.”
The New Yorker

“Ondaatje has produced a remarkable book.…Shimmering through the haze of heat and memory is an impressionistic, sometimes surreal portrait of an exotic time and place now gone, a colonial paradise that had its own rhythms and imperatives.”
Globe and Mail

“A beautiful, luscious book. Michael Ondaatje has depicted his extraordinary family, who delighted in masks and costumes and love affairs that ‘rainbowed over marriages’ in the kind of language that makes glory of their lives. He has gone on a poet’s journey to Sri Lanka (Ceylon), and the reader who travels with him enters a truly magical world.”
–Maxine Hong Kingston

“It sparkles with the intensity and vividness of its multifaceted tales of romance and intrigue.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“A brilliant, charming, poetic, hyperbolic holiday of a book.…Ondaatje walks the line between fact and fiction with a delicately rendered delight.”
Vancouver Province

“…the brilliant and moving book he has written is original in every way that matters.”
–W. S. Merwin

“A beautiful, luscious book of discovery and remembrance.”
Hamilton Spectator

“With a prose style equal to the voluptuousness of [Ondaatje’s] subject and a sense of humor never too far away, Running in the Family is sheer reading pleasure.”
Washington Post

“It dazzles with its range of imagination, richness of language and the consistently involving changes of mood and tempo.”
Toronto Star

“This is an intriguing, funny, dream-like book, impossible to put down.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“…brief, vivid scenes, moments revived out of remote memories, pictures of the intensities lived by his passionate parents… amid the lush flora, the predatory fauna, and the old-fashioned life of the British colonies. This is great story-telling.…"
–Leon Edel

From the Hardcover edition.

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