Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
In Booker Prize-winning Ondaatje's latest novel, 11-year-old Michael is put aboard a ship traveling from Sri Lanka to England in the 1950s. Ostensibly under the supervision of a relative, he in fact is on his own to roam with the young companions he meets at the "cat's table," the table farthest from the captain in the dining room. He and two other unsupervised boys have the run of the craft, where many unexplained and exotic things take place. Ultimately, they learn the hard way that their seemingly innocent actions have unintended consequences. VERDICT Ondaatje does an excellent job of narrating; his reading is polished, using the first-person narrative very effectively. Recommended for the author's fans and for literary fiction readers. ["Ondaatje turns in a quietly enthralling work. Highly recommended," read the starred review of the New York Times best-selling Knopf hc, LJ 7/11.-Ed.]-Mary Knapp, Madison P.L., WI (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
It only adds to the autobiographical nature of Ondaatje's novel-concerning a young boy who journeys by ship from Sri Lanka to England in the 1950s-that the author narrates this audio edition of his latest work. The mellifluous tones of Ondaatje's accent (part British and part subcontinental) are themselves testament to the memoiristic underpinnings of his novel. He reads without a professional's preciseness, and yet, knowing his work as well as he does, captures the subtle music of its understated prose. Listeners will relish Ondaatje's occasional variations from traditional British pronunciation, each one serving as a symbol of the book itself, which spans two continents and two eras. Listening to Ondaatje read becomes a pleasure in its own right; being neither here nor there, the author is himself much like the tale he tells, and the boy at its heart. A Knopf hardcover. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* In 1953, an 11-year-old boy's life is permanently upended when he leaves Colombo, Ceylon, to begin a new life in London with his mother. His 21 unsupervised days aboard the ocean liner Oronsay prove momentous as significant events during the crossing profoundly impact the boy's future while immensely expanding his world. Although seemingly at the periphery of society, seated at the so-called cat's table, the boy's dining mates an assortment of colorful characters are, in fact, a lot more instrumental in the ensuing intrigue aboard the ship than originally appears. The boy, Michael, and two companions have the run of the ship. They get up early each morning for various adventures. They eavesdrop, get into trouble, and observe adult situations that they lack the facility to interpret. Michael finds himself assistant to Baron C. in the breaking and entering of the ship's cabins to make off with various valuables. A dog they smuggled aboard from the port city of Aden escapes, creating much havoc; an on-board prisoner plots a getaway; and budding sexuality begins to sprout. As the years pass, Michael, who grows up to be an acclaimed writer with an international reputation (not unlike Ondaatje, especially for The English Patient, 1992), frequently returns to the events of those three weeks and demonstrates ho. over the years, confusing fragments, lost corners of stories, have a clearer meaning when seen in a new light, a different place. . High-Demand Backstory: An extensive U.S. author tour will bring attention anew to the literary talents of this remarkable writer.--Segedin, Be. Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
A graceful, closely observed novel that blends coming-of-age tropes with a Conradian sea voyage.The time is six decades past, and for reasons that have yet to emerge, a young boy is being packed off to England from his home in what was then called Ceylon. He climbs aboard a ship, theOronsay, "the first and only ship of his life," and falls in with two other boys about his age. All are banished to the opposite of the honor of the Captain's Tableto the Cat's Table, that is, along with "several interesting adults,"including a tailor, a botanist, a down-at-the-heels pianist and a ship's dismantler. The boys have the good fortune of being "invisible to officials such as the Purser and Head Steward, and the Captain,"and are therefore able to make a Peter Pan adventure of the long passage across the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Mediterranean and North Atlantic; as our narrator tells us, "The friendship between the quiet Ramadhin and the exuberant Cassius and myself grew fast, although we kept a great deal from each other."Well, this being a novel by the eminently accomplished Ondaatje (Divisadero, 2007, etc.), you may be certain that the tale will involve some tragedy, some heartache and some miscommunicationand, yes, death. It is also beautifully detailed, without a false note: It is easy to imagine, in Ondaatje's hands, being a passenger in the golden age of transoceanic voyaging, amid a sea of cocktail glasses and overflowing ashtrays, if in this case a setting more worthy of John le Carr than Noel Coward. Ondaatje writes with considerable tenderness of children who are all but abandoned, and at his best he lands squarely in Conrad territory, a place that smells of frankincense and in which "clotted clouds speckled the sky" and sandstorms blow out to sea from distant desertsjust the sort of place, in other words, that a reader wants to inhabit.Elegiac, mature and nostalgica fine evocation of childhood, and of days irretrievably past.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.