Michael Ondaatje was born in Colombo, Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) in 1943 in a family of Dutch origins. He first moved to England at the age of five, then to Canada in 1962. He studied and graduated from Queen's University, Ontario, in 1967. He made a reputation first as a poet and, more recently, as a novelist. In 1992 he was awarded the Booker Prize for his work, The English Patient. He lives in Toronto and teaches at York University, Toronto.
Besides The English Patient (1992), he wrote Anil's Ghost (2000), set in a modern Sri Lanka, during the Civil War between the Tamil separatists and central Government forces. The story unfolds through episodes, with frequent shifts in time and place.
It develops on two levels: on one side, Anil's investigation, which evolves as a sort of forensic thriller, and, on the other, the interweaving of personal events (divorces, suicides, love affairs) with political ones (mass murders, assassination attempts, suicide-bombers), as if in a kind of tragic patchwork.To maintain cohesion between the two levels, the author makes frequent use of flashbacks and, graphically, of whole pages in italics, using a collage techniques.
There are sometimes too many digressions, especially in the last third of the book but, on the whole, the novel is a masterly work, rich in imagery and suspense.