Fluidity of ocean and memory: A review of The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje

The Cat’s Table is one of those rare literary achievements that combines page-turning storytelling with perfectly shaped prose. Each word and each scene has been chosen with care, and the book comes together in a harmony of ideas, memories, and narratives.

“I could see she was beginning to approach her memory of it now, glimpsing a few incidents…thinking deeper into herself.”
– Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table

Amid the excitement surrounding the release of George R.R. Martin’s newest book, A Dance with Dragons, I also heard a common complaint: Martin, many of his truest fans contend, takes far too long between installments, leaving readers hanging for years at a time.

Michael Ondaatje, one of Canada’s literary superstars, doesn’t seem to garner the same complaint, despite breaks of five to eight years between titles. His admirers await his books with patient anticipation. In return, Ondaatje crafts works such as The Cat’s Table, one of those rare literary achievements that combines page-turning storytelling with perfectly shaped prose. Each word and each scene has been chosen with care, and the book comes together in a harmony of ideas, memories, and narratives.

I say narratives because The Cat’s Table encompasses many stories: in its seemingly straightforward telling of a boy’s 21 days on a ship bound from Sri Lanka to England, its deeply complex characters offer glimpses of chance encounters and intermingled lives. Continue reading “Fluidity of ocean and memory: A review of The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje”

Advertisements