"That night I woke suddenly with the feeling that we were passing islands, and that they were nearby in the darkness. There was a different sound to the waves beside the ship, a sense of an echo, as if they were responding to land. I turned on the yellow light by my bed and looked at the map of the world I had traced from a book. I had forgotten to put names on it."
Aside from a nomination for the Scotiabank Giller prize, Michael Ondaatje’s 2011 novel passed through public consciousness with little incident. Surprising as, in my opinion, this is one of the acclaimed author’s best works.
Seeing as the majority is set on an ocean liner, this is an ideal read for the summer where most of us find ourselves in transition in some way. Set in the 1950’s, the novel charts the journey of our protagonist, Michael, an 11-year-old boy on a ship bound to England and his two friends, Cassius and Ramidhin.
This is a coming-of-age novel teeming with secret gardens, storms, and adventure. Populated with a colourful cast of characters including an eccentric jazz musician and a shackled prisoner only allowed to walk on the ship’s deck at night, The Cat’s Table is an atmospheric and imaginative tour-de-force that should be on everyone’s reading list.
Words: Catherine Karellis