Philip Michael Ondaatje came to Canada at age 19 from Sri Lanka via England, and has become one of our most renowned living writers, working in poetry, fiction, autobiography, and film.
He is, perhaps, most famous for his novel, The English Patient (see the NY Times review here), which won the Booker Prize, the Canada Australia Prize, and the Governor General’s Award. The 1996 movie adaptation won nine Academy Awards including one for best film at the 69th Academy Awards.
Backward into memory, forward into loss and desire, “The English Patient” searches for answers that will answer nothing. This poetic, evocative film version of the famous novel by Michael Ondaatje circles down through layers of mystery until all of the puzzles in the story have been solved, and only the great wound of a doomed love remains. It is the kind of movie you can see twice–first for the questions, the second time for the answers. – Review by Roger Ebert
Now 73, Ondaatje is a companion of the Order of Canada and recipient of Sri Lanka’s highest award for foreign nationals. A new species of spider, discovered in Sri Lanka, was named for him.