Cat's Table

By Michael Ondaatje
(Jonathan Cape, Hardcover, 9780224093613)

Publication Date: August 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback, Hardcover, Paperback, Compact Disc, Hardcover, Paperback

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Fall '12 Reading Group List
“In a story of intricate delicacy and beauty, Ondaatje not only tells the wondrous tale of three boys at sea -- a journey that takes them each from one world to another and into the realm of adult ways and mysteries -- but also one that has the reader in thrall to what it is to look back and remember. The Cat's Table is a luscious, bittersweet rumination on imagination, memory, and place, and what we find by reclaiming what we've lost.”
-- Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
Selected by Indie Booksellers for the October 2011 Indie Next List


Description

In the early 1950s in Ceylon an eleven-year-old boy is put alone aboard a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the insignificant "cat's table"--as far from the Captain's table as can be--with two other lone boys and a small group of strange fellow passengers: one appears to be a shadowy figure from the British Secret Service; another a mysterious thief, another seems all too familiar with the dangerous ways of women and crime. On the long sea voyage across the Indian Ocean and through the Suez Canal, the three boys rush from one wild adventure and startling discovery to another: experiencing the first stirrings of desire, spying at night on a notorious shackled prisoner, moving easily between the decks and holds of the ship. As the secretive adult world is slowly revealed, they begin to realize that a drama is unfolding on board, and the prisoner's crime and fate will be a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them and link them forever.




NPR
Friday, Sep 30, 2011

Michele Norris talks to Booker Prize winner Michael Ondaatje about his new novel The Cat's Table. More at NPR.org

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Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. The epigraph is taken from the short story “Youth” by Joseph Conrad: “And this is how I see the East.... I see it always from a small boat—not a light, not a stir, not a sound. We conversed in low whispers, as if afraid to wake up the land.... It is all in that moment when I opened my young eyes on it. I came upon it from a tussle with the sea.” How does this set up the major themes of The Cat’s Table?

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