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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.
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
This novel takes place in Sri Lanka during a civil war. Ultimately it's a murder mystery with a great plot.Published 26 days ago by Amazon Customer
Review by: Elise Hadden, Under the Heather Books (...)
What I Liked
Above all, Anil’s Ghost is absolutely fascinating. Read more
Although there's been good reviews about it - i just find the whole book confusing and slow in pace.. Whereas there's some unknown insertion of poems that's sort-of irrelevant...Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I've pretty much ready every book Ondaatje has written. This one, though, I think he wrote for me. It was if he woke up one morning, said to himself, "what would SHE like to... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jane Mars
Beautiful and simple. At first, I was a bit thrown by the way the author presented alternate storylines, but as the novel progressed, he wove them together in ways that pulled at... Read morePublished 4 months ago by C. C.
It was so interesting to learn about Ceylon and I loved hearing the words that I never could have pronounced.Published 5 months ago by Mary Catrett
The darkness of this story paired with the beauty of the author's prose makes the book a striking portrait of humanity and history.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
I am in Sri Lanka and it was a great way to familiarize myself with some difficult recent history in the country. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Zaks Lubin