In Michael Ondaatje’s new novel the characters’ mission is to reconstruct from a skeleton the story of a terrorist murder-on the theory, in the hope, that the truth of one death will let one victim speak for multitudes.
Titled “Anil’s Ghost,” it will remind you a lot of the Ondaatje novel that became the Oscar winning movie, “The English Patient.” We’re in another war-broken world, watching shattered strangers from someplace else do meticulous work, collect their life memories, and fall in love.
We’re hearing again the influence of Ondaatje the poet on Ondaatje the novelist. We’re feeling the flow of painterly and cinematic images as the motive force in his writing; the plot is rather a minor excuse for the prose.
But Anil’s Ghost feels like a deeper, darker, greater effort than “The English Patient,” not least because the time is almost now and the setting, Sri Lanka, was Ondaatje’s first home.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)