The Cat's Table

By Michael Ondaatje
(Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780307700117, 269pp.)

Publication Date: October 4, 2011

List Price: $26.00*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the October 2011 Indie Next List
“In a story of intricate delicacy and beauty, Ondaatje not only tells the wondrous story 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


Description

In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the “cat’s table”—as far from the Captain’s Table as can be—with a ragtag group of “insignificant” adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, bursting all over the place like freed mercury. But there are other diversions as well: one man talks with them about jazz and women, another opens the door to the world of literature. The narrator’s elusive, beautiful cousin Emily becomes his confidante, allowing him to see himself “with a distant eye” for the first time, and to feel the first stirring of desire. Another Cat’s Table denizen, the shadowy Miss Lasqueti, is perhaps more than what she seems. And very late every night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner, his crime and his fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever.
 
As the narrative moves between the decks and holds of the ship and the boy’s adult years, it tells a spellbinding story—by turns poignant and electrifying—about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.




About the Author
Michael Ondaatje is a novelist and poet perhaps best known for his Booker Prize winning novel adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, The English Patient. His other books include Secular Love, In the Skin of a Lion, Running in the Family, and The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. He edited From Ink Lake, a selection of Canadian stories, and has won several Governor General's Award for both fiction and poetry.


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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