Michael Ondaatje was born in Ceylon
) on September 12, 1943
, with Dutch
ancestry. In 1954, he moved with his mother
, and to Canada in 1962
. He received his
from the University of Toronto
and his MA from
Ondaatje is best known for the screen adaptation
of his novel, The English Patient, which won
nine Academy Awards in 1996, but his writing career
began with poetry, much earlier.
After publishing The Dainty Monsters in 1967,
and 1969's The Man With Seven Toes, Ondaatje
created a strange hybrid of a book called The
Collected Works of Billy the Kid in 1970. Comprised
of poems, photos, interviews, flyers, songs, and diary
entries, this book shared the Governor General's award
for poetry with bpNichol's The True Eventual
Story of Billy the Kid and three other texts.
These were followed by Rat Jelly in 1973,
Coming Through Slaughter in 1976, and
Elimination Dance,'78. In 1979, he won the
Governor-General award again for his book of poetry,
There's a Trick With a Knife I'm Learning
These were followed by poetry collections, among them
Secular Love, in 1984 and The Cinnamon
Peeler, 1992. And novels; The English Patient
, won the 1992 Booker Prize, and In the Skin of
a Lion. And more poetry; Handwriting in
1999, and yet another novel in 2000, Anil's Ghost
. This last was awarded the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book
Prize, the Prix Medicis, the Governor General's Award
and the Giller Prize.
Ondaatje has also made three films, one of them a film
about bpNichol entitled Sons of Captain Poetry.
In addition, he has written a marvelously colorful memoir,
Running in the Family, of his childhood and growing
up in Ceylon.
Ondaatje currently resides in Toronto with his wife,
Linda Spalding, where they edit the literary journal Brick.
salon.com, and amazon.com