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Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
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Running in the Family (1982)

by Michael Ondaatje

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,196196,704 (3.88)74
  1. 10
    The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (stevereads)
  2. 00
    Bone China by Roma Tearne (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Both books tell stories of upper class Sri Lankan families, and both are lovely.
  3. 00
    Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir by Frances Mayes (Emydidae)
  4. 01
    Out of Egypt: A Memoir by André Aciman (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Both these are family memoirs with a light-hearted tone, although Out Of Egypt has a rather more sombre background setting.
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English (18)  German (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
I don't think I looked carefully when I picked this up at Bookcrossing and didn't realize it was a memoir and expected a novel but it was a very enjoyable memoir. Very evocative, much more than narrative and beautifully written. I think perhaps I enjoyed it a bit more than the two novels I've read.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
Ondaatje’s prose is intensely evocative, impressionistic, magical writing. He writes of the smells and sounds of Ceylon, flowers that only bloom in the night, drunkenness, gambling and intoxicating love affairs. He writes of falling asleep in the afternoon, the curling beauty of the Sinhalese alphabet, the tree he climbed as a boy on his family’s estate. He writes about strange dreams, lizards, and crumbling rose palaces. This is a dream of a book, part poem, part family history. It represents to me all that is beautiful in language, in poetic imagery, and the construction of writing. His prose stuns me, it changes my feelings, the way I see the world and experience itself.

This book is described as being ‘postmodern’, an assessment I thoroughly agree with. One of the hallmarks of postmodernism, to my mind, is work that is self-referential. What I love about Ondaatje’s books is that he examines narrative structure. He did this beautifully in ‘Divisadero’ where the narrative resembles a sort of tree with each story growing out of the next; limb upon limb. In ‘Running in the Family’ he places fragments side by side; poems, dreams, memoirs, memories, impressions. The fragments then lift and form and create a whole in the mind. The past and present intermingle. It’s very beautiful. It’s the sort of writing that I am intensely interested in. Like all of Ondaatje’s books, this work is deeply intelligent, multi-layered, rich, and dripping in poetry. I read this book very slowly, drinking it in, I never wanted it to end. ( )
  Sophiejf | Sep 24, 2013 |
In 1978 and again in 1980, author Michael Ondaatje went to visit the island of his birth, Sri Lanka. This book chronicles his visits and tells the stories of his homeland and ancestors in the most poetic and beautifully written memoir ever. I'd even go so far as to say this is the most amazing non-fiction book I've ever read.

Read my full review here... ( )
  Davida.Chazan | Sep 7, 2013 |
everyone else(except 1 person) seemed to like this. i don't like ondaatje. he goes on and i lose focus. ( )
  mahallett | May 21, 2013 |
Sri Lanka

Ondaatje's account of growing up in Ceylon is a memoir with fictionalized inclusions. The style is postmodern and the language frequently lyrical. Ondaatje evokes he tropical swelter and dangers of the landscape in parallel to his frenetic and sometimes interpersonally toxic accounts of his family. Much alcoholic carousing paints a vivid portrait of semi-colonial life in the 1920's and forward. Nicely rendered and a nice model of memoir writing beyond a straightforward, chronological account. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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For Griffin and Quintin,/
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What began it all was the bright bone of a dream I could hardly hold onto.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679746692, Paperback)

In the late 1970s Ondaatje returned to his native island of Sri Lanka. As he records his journey through the drug-like heat and intoxicating fragrances of that "pendant off the ear of India, " Ondaatje simultaneously retraces the baroque mythology of his Dutch-Ceylonese family. An inspired travel narrative and family memoir by an exceptional writer.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:50 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

An autobiographical journey of discovery gathers together fragments of memory, experience, and family history in order to understand the meaning of his parents' legacy and his own heritage.

» see all 3 descriptions

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