Ondaatje Gets Boost on NPR

Michael Ondaatje’s 1987 novel In the Skin of a Lion is #58 on Amazon today, courtesy of an impassioned review by author Kamila Shamsie on NPR’s All Things Considered last night. Though less well known than Ondaatje’s The English Patient, the earlier novel features younger versions of several characters in that Booker Prize-winning book, including the nurse, Hana, and the wounded thief, Caravaggio. Although The Skin of a Lion is a short novel of fewer than 300 pages, it has a “gorgeous writing style [that] is so condensed,” according to Shamsie, “that it has a degree of richness that few books can match.”

As part of “You’ve Got to Read This,” an occasional feature on All Things Considered in which one author hails the work of another, Shamsie called The Skin of a Lion “a book of many moods.”

There is real anger in it about the way the powerful take advantage of those who work the hardest; there is incredible tenderness between friends and lovers; there are flashes of unexpected humor; and there are some truly heart-stopping moments. Binding it all together is writing filled with the most glorious, startling images. When I read it, every nerve ending that has been de-sensitized by an onslaught of news and facts in the “real world” suddenly starts to feel love and anger, terror and wonder more passionately than before.”

Shamsie is an intriguing author in her own right. Her latest novel, Burnt Shadows, chronicles the impact of the bombing at Nagasaki on two families over two generations and has been highly recommended by Library Journal.

Libraries own a small number of both Ondaatje’s and Shamsie’s novels.

In the Skin of a Lion
Michael Ondaatje
Price: $13.95
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Vintage – (1997-01-14)
ISBN-10: 0679772669
ISBN-13: 9780679772668


Burnt Shadows
Kamila Shamsie
Price: $14.00
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Picador – (2009-04-27)
ISBN-10: 0312551878
ISBN-13: 9780312551872

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