Michael Ondaatje OC (born September 12, 1943) is a Canadian/Sri Lankan novelist and poet perhaps best known for his Booker Prize winning novel adapted into an Academy Award winning film, The English Patient.
Born in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) of Dutch-Tamil-Sinhalese origin, in 1954 he moved to England with his mother.
After relocating to Canada in 1962, Ondaatje became a Canadian citizen. Ondaatje received his BA from the University of Toronto and his MA from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. In the mid-1960s he settled in Toronto. From 1971 to 1983 he taught at York University and since then at Glendon College in Toronto.
His style of fiction introduced in In the Skin of a Lion and mastered in The English Patient is non-linear. He creates a narrative by exploring many interconnected snapshots in great detail.
Although he is best known as a novelist, Ondaatje's work also encompasses memoir, poetry, and film. His memoir of his Sri Lankan childhood is called Running in the Family. He won the Governor General's Award for two books of poetry: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970) and There's a Trick With a Knife I'm Learning to Do: Poems 1973-1978 (1979). His three films include a documentary on fellow poet bp nichol, The Sons of Captain Poetry.
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