“It's a responsibility of the writer to get the reader out of the story somehow.” – Michael Ondaatje
And into it, too, of course. “The first sentence of every novel should be: Trust me, this will take time but there is order here.”
Born on this day, Ondaatje started writing as a poet, but burst to prominence with his internationally acclaimed novel The English Patient. After taking the book world by storm, the novel was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film by the same name. Ondaatje's work includes fiction, autobiography, poetry and film, and he says he likes all genres and especially enjoys creating characters that keep readers engrossed in his stories. And he said he likes creating characters for another reason: “So you can argue with yourself.”
Since the 1960s, Ondaatje has been involved with the Canadian publisher Coach House Books, supporting the independent small press by working as a poetry editor alongside his novelist wife Linda Spalding. Together they also help co-edit Brick, A Literary Journal.
Ondaatje’s poetry has won numerous major awards, especially his Collected Works of Billy the Kid, and the clever The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems.
Regardless of whether he’s writing a poem or a work of fiction, he says he likes to leave his reader wanting more. “I see the poem or the novel ending with an open door.”
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