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Sir Christopher Ondaatje
Christopher Ondaatje was born in Ceylon, was educated in
England, and emigrated to Canada in 1956. He has worked at several
magazines and newspapers, and in 1967 founded Pagurian Press, which eventually
became the enormously successful Pagurian Corporation. In 1988 he sold all
his business interests and returned to the literary world.
He is the author of eight books, including the best-selling
Burton biographies Sindh Revisited and Journey to the Source of the
Nile; and more recently Hemingway in Africa. He was a member of
Canada's 1964 bobsled team, is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a
Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery. He lives in London, England and
was knighted by the Queen in 2003.
Please visit Sir Christopher's websites:
Leopard in the Afternoon
Leopard in the Afternoon is a captivating story of
a journey through some of Africa’s most spectacular haunts; and it is the
most unusual story of how one of Canada’s most successful financiers,
disillusioned with the world of business, found that a tenting safari became
also a journey of discovery that would change his life irrevocably.
The journey took
the form of a quest for that most dangerous, most threatened of the African
cats – the leopard. Beautiful, mysterious, savage and reclusive, the leopard
came to dominate the author’s thoughts and imagination. His drive to find
the elusive creature led him deep into the Serengeti.
Ondaatje captures the power of Africa in his photographs as well as in the
journal that he kept daily – from the grandeur of Mount Kilimanjaro to the
breathtaking vistas of the Ngorongoro Crater, to the endless savannah plains
of the Serengeti with its amazing variety of wildlife. The journey was
enlivened by startling encounters with mating lions, night-marauding hyenas,
and poisonous scorpions – and spiced with the risks the author took to
obtain his photographs.
Leopard in the
Afternoon is also touched with poignancy and regret for a vanishing
wilderness – a world threatened with extinction. The book is a celebration
and a lament – celebration of a fascinating and formidable environment;
lament for the increasing fragility of its future.
Please visit Barnes & Noble.
The Man-Eater of Punanai
The Man-Eater of Punanai is
a fascinating story of a past rediscovered through a remarkable journey to
one of the most exotic countries in the world — Sri Lanka. Full of drama and
history, it not only relives the incredible story of a man-eating leopard
that terrorized the tiny village of Punanai in the early part of the
century, but also allows the author to come to terms with the ghost of his
charismatic but tyrannical father.
More than a simple tale of adventure, the story is the revelation of a
colourful but troubled past — a charmed life which abruptly ended when the
author was sent to school in England, away from the security of childhood
and the family he loved so much. Through an evocative narrative we come to
understand the forces that shaped this successful, mercurial man and that
eventually impelled him to give up much of his power in the business world
in exchange for a more satisfying quest.
his photographs and his highly personal narrative, Christopher Ondaatje has
captured all of the exotic drama of Sri Lanka: the jungles of Yala, the
family tea estate, the ancient ruined cities, and, eventually, the
strife-torn village of Punanai — now the scene of a different terror. The
journey’s drama is heightened by accounts of intriguing meetings with people
who were very much a part of the family past — privileged members of a
declining colonial society. There were risks, too, but through it all the
bold quest for truth drove the author relentlessly to a final and inevitable
“...a remarkable account of a journey into the past and the present. It is
also an act of stark confrontation: wilful, alarming, and poignant.” John
Fraser, Editor, Saturday Night, from the introduction.
“This is both an
original and a compulsively readable book. The author has blended the story
of his pursuit of the leopard in Sri Lanka with the pursuit of his own past.
He has mingled adventure with reflection, history with legend, in a
fascinating and revealingly personal narrative.” Charles Ritchie, Author,
The Siren Years.
Please visit Barnes & Noble.
Sindh Revisited is the
remarkable story of the author’s fascination with the early life of Sir
Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890). It is the story of an incredible
journey, too — deep into the heart of British India, and the India and Sindh
The very name of Sir Richard Burton conjures up images of adventure. His
search for the source of the Nile with John Hanning Speke contributed to his
being the best-known traveller of the nineteenth century. Burton was an
outstanding orientalist, archaeologist, linguist, anthropologist, and a
controversial diplomat. His over fifty books covered an amazing diversity of
subjects, and his translation of the Arabian Nights remains the most
famous ever published. The startling drama of Richard Burton’s existence continued even after his death. His remaining papers were burnt by his
widow, perhaps one of the most destructive crimes ever perpetrated on the
Christopher Ondaatje’s Sindh Revisited is the extraordinarily
sensitive account of the author’s quest to uncover the secrets of the seven
years Richard Burton spent in India in the army of the East India Company
from 1842 to 1849. “If I wanted to fill the gap in my understanding of
Richard Burton, I would have to do something that had never been done
before: follow in his footsteps in India…” The journey covered thousands of
miles—trekking across deserts where ancient tribes meet modern civilization
in the valley of the mighty Indus River.
What was it that Burton discovered in India? What was it that changed him
from a rebellious, wayward youth into a man of courage, imagination, wisdom
and personal power? Through this unique book and the journey it describes,
we come nearer than ever before to understanding the mystery of Richard
Burton and the devils that drove him.
Here is drama and
insight, danger and revelation — a rare first-hand glimpse into a world few
of us know. Startling photographs complement this narrative which puts the
reader on the scene in modern Sindh while never losing sight of the
Victorian India of Burton.
information, please go to
Barnes & Noble.
Woolf in Ceylon
Leonard Woolf was born in London in 1880 and spent five years at Trinity
College, Cambridge where he began lasting friendships with men such as
Lytton Strachey, E. M. Forster and John Maynard Keynes. In 1904 Woolf
applied to join the home civil service but failed the exam. Instead, he was
sent to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) as a cadet in the Ceylon civil service,
joining the small group of white administrators who ruled the colony. He
remained there for nearly seven years.
In Woolf in
Ceylon Christopher Ondaatje, who was himself born and brought up on the
island, follows in the footsteps of Woolf. Drawing on his personal
experience of Ceylon and empire, he compares the way of life during imperial
days with that of the post-colonial era. We learn as much about the country,
its people and their transformation of the country during the past century
as we do about the man who used his colonial career to become one of the
leading English men of letters of the twentieth century.
sensitive descriptions, illustrated with period and modern photographs, tell
the compelling story of Woolf’s sojourn in Ceylon and his developing
disillusionment with the British colonial system. The result is a unique
evocation of both a vanished imperial world and a colonial servant’s
enduring legacy in the contemporary culture of an enchanted but troubled
“I personally regard this as Christopher Ondaatje’s most valuable book to
date.” Andrew Robinson, Literary Editor, The Times Higher Education