by Michael Ondaatje
The Cat’s Table is possibly Michael Ondaatje’s easiest read, far and away the most accessible of his novels to date, a more or less straightforward narrative about a boy’s voyage from his home in Ceylon to a new life with his mother in England, the friends he makes, the adventures he has, with occasional forays into the future – our present. There’s a disclaimer at the back that states this is a work entirely of the imagination which I find a little hard to believe. Michael Ondaatje made just such a voyage when he was a boy and the story feels so very *real*. Maybe the apparent realism is just testimony to the author’s undoubted skill, maybe he was afraid of giving too much of himself away, either way, the tale flows effortlessly. As always, Michael Ondaatje’s writing stuns with its quiet, easy beauty; never too much, never over-metaphorical, never trying too hard; consistently astonishing and lovely, it has the purity and clarity of mountain air.
All in all, The Cat’s Table is a far less demanding Ondaatje than usual, and not his best, but still wonderfully good.