The Cat’s Table

Michael Ondaatje. Knopf, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-307-70011-7
In Ondaatje’s best novel since his Booker Prize–winning The English Patient, an 11-year-old boy sets off on a voyage from Ceylon to London, where his mother awaits. Though Ondaatje tells us firmly in the “Author’s Note” that the story is “pure invention,” the young boy is also called Michael, was also born in Ceylon, and also grows up to become a writer. This air of the meta adds a gorgeous, modern twist to the timeless story of boys having an awfully big adventure: young Michael meets two children of a similar age on the Oronsay, Cassius and Ramadhin, and together the threesome gets up to all kinds of mischief on the ship, with, and at the expense of, an eccentric set of passengers. But it is Michael’s older, beguiling cousin, Emily, also onboard, who allows him glimpses of the man he is to become. As always, Ondaatje’s prose is lyrical, but here it is tempered; the result is clean and full of grace, such as in this description of the children having lashed themselves to the deck to experience a particularly violent storm: “our heads were stretched back to try to see how deep the bow would go on its next descent. Our screams unheard, even to each other, even to ourselves, even if the next day our throats were raw from yelling into that hallway of the sea.” (Oct. 7)
Reviewed on: 08/22/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 269 pages - 978-0-307-74441-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-94373-6
Hardcover - 311 pages - 978-1-61173-224-5
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-94374-3
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-61637-889-9
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-7710-6864-5
Open Ebook - 158 pages - 978-0-307-70045-2
Hardcover - 286 pages - 978-0-224-09361-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-94371-2
Paperback - 286 pages - 978-0-224-09362-0
Paperback - 366 pages - 978-0-09-955442-4
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-09-955443-1
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4481-0385-0
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-307-40142-7
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-307-40143-4
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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