Book A Day: The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Day 11:

The English Patient

In 1992 this novel was one of two titles that won the Man Booker Prize for fiction and this year it took out the special 50th anniversary Golden Man Booker. Seems I’m not the only one who thinks it’s one of the greatest novels ever written.

Haunting and harrowing, as beautiful as it is disturbing, The English Patient tells the story of the entanglement of four damaged lives in an Italian monastery as World War II ends. The exhausted nurse, Hana; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burn victim who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning. In lyrical prose informed by a poetic consciousness, Michael Ondaatje weaves these characters together, pulls them tight, then unravels the threads with unsettling acumen.

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