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Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje

Anil's Ghost (original 2000; edition 2000)

by Michael Ondaatje

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Title:Anil's Ghost
Authors:Michael Ondaatje
Info:Knopf (2000), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 311 pages
Collections:Your library

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Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje (2000)

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English (76)  Spanish (1)  All languages (77)
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Won this in a Halloween party contest.
  Greymowser | Jan 23, 2016 |
I needed some time before I commented on this novel.
When I saw discussion questions posted it helped me hone my feelings.

I would recommend it if you feel like exploring the following:
The atrocities of Sri Lanka civil war
Key characters who have extensively damaged personal lives but still have threads uniting them.
The pursuit of justice and recognition for the nameless victims of the war.
The aftermath of scars to the land and the psyche...etc

I did develop an increased respect for Buddhism.
I got a taste of the authors poetic style.
I learned of Sri Lanka geographically. culturally and a bit of the 3 prong civil war.

The read was overwhelming for me...dark and intense.
I was looking for trust that couldn't be extended by the characters.
I came to understand that the read would be in transition from one setting and group of characters to another.
They did however blend and contribute to the story.

Enough said.
If you read Anil's Ghost, I'll llook for your review to add some dimension to mine. ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 23, 2016 |
I couldn't get into this book at all. Fragmented, internal inconsistencies, hard to get a grip on....Perhaps I'll try it again when I'm in a different life. ( )
  Jeannine504 | Jan 23, 2016 |
For some reason I have only a very vague memory of this book as I add it to my collection some years later. Tells the story of a Sri Lankan forensic expert dealing with the terrors of 1990s in Sri Lanka. I see that it is critically acclaimed, and can't account for its lack of impression on me.
Read in Samoa July 2002. ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 26, 2015 |
Somewhat disjointed, not a quick read. But in this age of terrorism and fear of what you say or don't say, what you do or don't do could mark you for death, the story, like the ghosts of Sarath, Gamini nd Anil will stay with me. One reviewer distilled the story to this: a doctor, a forensic anthropologist and an archaeologist - a study of the living, the dead and the immortality. ( )
  sraelling | Apr 23, 2015 |
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When the team reached the site at five-thirty in the morning, one or two family members would be waiting for them.
"The bodies turn up weekly now. The height of the terror was 'eighty-eight and 'eighty-nine, but of course it was going on long before that. Every side was killing and hiding the evidence. Every side. This is an unofficial war, no one wants to alienate the foreign powers. So it's secret gangs and squads. Not like Central America. The government was not the only one doing the killing. You had, and still have, three camps of enemies--one in the north, two in the south--using weapons, propaganda, fear, sophisticated posters, censorship. Importing state-of-the-art weapons from the West, or manufacturing homemade weapons. A couple of years ago people just started disappearing. Or bodies kept being found burned beyond recognition. There's no hope for affixing blame. And no one can tell who the victims are."
"There are so many bodies in the ground now, that's what you said...murdered, anonymous. I mean, people don't even know if they are two hundred years old or two weeks old, they've all been through fire. Some people let their ghosts die, some don't. Sarath, we can do something..."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375724370, Paperback)

In his Booker Prize-winning third novel, The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje explored the nature of love and betrayal in wartime. His fourth, Anil's Ghost, is also set during a war, but unlike in World War II, the enemy is difficult to identify in the bloody sectarian upheaval that ripped Sri Lanka apart in the 1980s and '90s. The protagonist, Anil Tissera, a native Sri Lankan, left her homeland at 18 and returns to it 15 years later only as part of an international human rights fact-finding mission. In the intervening years she has become a forensic anthropologist--a career that has landed her in the killing fields of Central America, digging up the victims of Guatemala's dirty war. Now she's come to Sri Lanka on a similar quest. But as she soon learns, there are fundamental differences between her previous assignment and this one:
The bodies turn up weekly now. The height of the terror was 'eighty-eight and 'eighty-nine, but of course it was going on long before that. Every side was killing and hiding the evidence. Every side. This is an unofficial war, no one wants to alienate the foreign powers. So it's secret gangs and squads. Not like Central America. The government was not the only one doing the killing.
In such a situation, it's difficult to know who to trust. Anil's colleague is one Sarath Diyasena, a Sri Lankan archaeologist whose political affiliations, if any, are murky. Together they uncover evidence of a government-sponsored murder in the shape of a skeleton they nickname Sailor. But as Anil begins her investigation into the events surrounding Sailor's death, she finds herself caught in a web of politics, paranoia, and tragedy.

Like its predecessor, the novel explores that territory where the personal and the political intersect in the fulcrum of war. Its style, though, is more straightforward, less densely poetical. While many of Ondaatje's literary trademarks are present--frequent shifts in time, almost hallucinatory imagery, the gradual interweaving of characters' pasts with the present--the prose here is more accessible. This is not to say that the author has forgotten his poetic roots; subtle, evocative images abound. Consider, for example, this description of Anil at the end of the day, standing in a pool of water, "her toes among the white petals, her arms folded as she undressed the day, removing layers of events and incidents so they would no longer be within her." In Anil's Ghost Michael Ondaatje has crafted both a brutal examination of internecine warfare and an enduring meditation on identity, loyalty, and the unbreakable hold the past exerts over the present. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:42 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The time is our own time. The place is Sri Lanka, the island nation formerly known as Ceylon, off the southern tip of India, a country steeped in centuries of cultural achievement and tradition--and forced into the late twentieth century by the ravages of civil war and the consequences of a country divided against itself. Into this maelstrom steps a young woman, Anil Tessera, born in Sri Lanka, educated in England and America, a forensic anthropologist sent by an international human rights group to work with local officials to discover the source of the organized campaigns of murder engulfing the island.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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