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An Evening with Poet and Novelist Michael Ondaatje

Past Series, The Writing Lives Series

dateApril 29, 2014 timeTuesday, 6:15pm EDT location The Schapiro Center, Davis Auditorium, Columbia University
  • The Writing Program of the School of the Arts
  • Image Credit/Caption: Linda Spalding
Headshot of Michael Ondaatje

As part of the Writing Lives Series, the Heyman Center for the Humanities presents an evening with poet and novelist Michael Ondaatje—author of the Booker Prize winning The English Patient. Ondaatje will read from his work and a Q&A will follow.

Ondaatje is one of the world's foremost writers--his artistry and aesthetic have influenced an entire generation of writers and readers. Although he is best known as a novelist, Ondaatje’s work also encompasses poetry, memoir, and film, and reveals a passion for defying conventional form. His transcendent novel, The English Patient, explores the stories of people forgotten by history by intersecting four diverse lives at the end of World War II. This bestselling novel was later made into an Academy Award-winning film.

Ondaatje himself is an interesting intersection of cultures. Born in Sri Lanka, the former Ceylon, of Indian/Dutch ancestry, he went to school in England, and then moved to Canada. He is now a Canadian citizen. From the memoir of his childhood, Running in the Family, to his Governor-General’s Award-winning book of poetry, There’s a Trick With a Knife I’m Learning To Do, to his classic novel, The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje casts a spell over his readers. And having won the British Commonwealth’s highest honor, the Booker Prize, he has taken his rightful place as a contemporary literary treasure.

He is the author of four collections of poetry including The Cinnamon Peeler and most recently, Handwriting. His works of fiction include In the Skin of a Lion, The English Patient, Anil's Ghost, Divisadero. and The Cat’s Table. Ondaatje’s work of nonfiction is The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, which unites his love of literature and passion for the art of filmmaking.

Michael Ondaatje will be in conversation with Saskia Hamilton, Professor of English at Barnard College, and C.D. Wright, I.J. Kapstein Professor of Literary Arts at Brown University.

Sonali Deraniyagala, Author of Wave and Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia, will provide an introduction.

The event is open to the public. Seating is first come, first served.

Please note: Seating is limited for this event.

  • Michael Ondaatje Poet and Author
  • Saskia Hamilton Professor of English and Director of Women Poets at Barnard Program Barnard College
  • C.D. Wright I.J. Kapstein Professor of Literary Arts Brown University
  • Sonali Deraniyagala Author and Adjunct Associate Professor Columbia University