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Anil's Ghost: A Novel Paperback – April 24, 2001
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The bodies turn up weekly now. The height of the terror was 'eighty-eight and 'eighty-nine, but of course it was going on long before that. Every side was killing and hiding the evidence. Every side. This is an unofficial war, no one wants to alienate the foreign powers. So it's secret gangs and squads. Not like Central America. The government was not the only one doing the killing.In such a situation, it's difficult to know who to trust. Anil's colleague is one Sarath Diyasena, a Sri Lankan archaeologist whose political affiliations, if any, are murky. Together they uncover evidence of a government-sponsored murder in the shape of a skeleton they nickname Sailor. But as Anil begins her investigation into the events surrounding Sailor's death, she finds herself caught in a web of politics, paranoia, and tragedy.
Like its predecessor, the novel explores that territory where the personal and the political intersect in the fulcrum of war. Its style, though, is more straightforward, less densely poetical. While many of Ondaatje's literary trademarks are present--frequent shifts in time, almost hallucinatory imagery, the gradual interweaving of characters' pasts with the present--the prose here is more accessible. This is not to say that the author has forgotten his poetic roots; subtle, evocative images abound. Consider, for example, this description of Anil at the end of the day, standing in a pool of water, "her toes among the white petals, her arms folded as she undressed the day, removing layers of events and incidents so they would no longer be within her." In Anil's Ghost Michael Ondaatje has crafted both a brutal examination of internecine warfare and an enduring meditation on identity, loyalty, and the unbreakable hold the past exerts over the present. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book centers around the character of Anil Tissera, a thirty-three year old Sri Lankan born forensic anthropologist sent to her homeland as a United Nations human rights investigator whose mission is to explore various "disappearances," i.e., murders.
Her government-appointed partner is Sarath Diyasera, a forty-nine year old government representative who gives Anil little reason to relax. Although Sarath is capable of reconstructing a vibrant picture of the past based on the flimsiest of clues, his motives and alliances seem more than slightly questionable. Sarath, however, is often misunderstood, for this is a man who understands the moral complexities of the modern world in their historical context, who knows what can and cannot be done and who views "truth" as the ambiguous statement it is.
While excavating a site in a sanctuary containing nineteenth century bones, a skeleton of recent date is unearthed, one whose remains also appear to have been moved twice.Read more ›
While there are a few pages of less-than-stellar prose (for a 300-page book, it is extremely tight), Ondaatje has pulled off some amazing things here. Foremost is his ability to link the landscape with the human. From diamond and plumbago mines to the ruins of palaces to the inscription filled caves that once housed ascetic monks, the author lets the geography and conflict of Sri Lanka reveal the geography and conflict of being.
And just as the characters hoard individual inscriptions (Warning: WHEN IT RAINS, THESE STEPS ARE BEAUTIFUL or more brutually "In diagnosing a vascular injury, a high index of suspicion is necesary."), you'll come across sentences, paragraphs, pages you'll want to commit to memory.
Finally, the experience of discovery, the delving and decryption involved in reading the book is so, well, lovingly mirrored in the character's investigations (of self, memory, identity) that you read with the sense that you are doing something important, that you are ferreting out a deep and wonderful secret about the human experience. That you, like the artists and doctors in the story, are revealing pain only to heal it, figuring the dead only to honor and remember them.
Read, I implore you, this wonderful, horrible, beautiful book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am in Sri Lanka and it was a great way to familiarize myself with some difficult recent history in the country. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Zaks Lubin
He is a very good writer but this is a thin story expanded to fill the obligatory three hundred pages. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Krystyna McNaughton
There are things to like about Anil's ghost - some lovely writing, some nice turns of phrase - but it largely fails as a novel. It's more a series of vignettes. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Maugham
Perplexing is the one word summary I'd give this book; I never really 'believed' in Anil, the character and her story is a bit flimsy; however the insight into the horror of the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by andrew
It was a challenge for me to keep up with Ondaatje's intent. I call this a thinking book. My mind drifted to the Giant Buddhas of Bamiyan.Published 6 months ago by Lama Jeff
I liked the subject matter but the author just touched upon it. I wanted for know more about the conflict in Sri Lanka and finished the book dissatisfied!Published 8 months ago by Anya
This book was annoying to read at parts. The author seemed to forget what he had previously described, like the water "burial" 90 pages in which the depth of the water changes... Read morePublished 9 months ago by L. M. Christon
Anil a forensic scientist based in us goes to shrilanka on a short assignment.she is teamed up with sharath a local scientist in Colombo. Read morePublished 10 months ago by D souza