Running in the Family
In Michael Ondaatje's beloved family memoir, fact and fiction blur to create a dazzlingly original portrait of a lost time and place. Ondaatje left Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) at the age of 11. Almost 25 years later, he returned to sort out the recollected fragments of experience, legend and family scandal, and to reconstruct the carefree, doomed life his parents and grandparents had led in a place where couples danced the tango in the moonlight, where drink, gambling and romance were the main occupations of the upper class. Rich with eccentric characters and captivating stories, and set against the exotic landscape of a colonial empire in decline, Running in the Family is Ondaatje's unforgettable journey through memory and imagination to reclaim his past. (From Vintage Canada)
From the book
What began it all was the bright bone of a dream I could hardly hold onto. I was sleeping at a friend's house. I saw my father, chaotic, surrounded by dogs, and all of them were screaming and barking into the tropical landscape. The noises woke me. I sat up on the uncomfortable sofa and I was in a jungle, hot, sweating. Street lights bounced off the snow and into the room through the hanging vines and ferns at my friend's window. A fish tank glowed in the corner. I had been weeping and my shoulders and face were exhausted. I wound the quilt around myself, leaned back against the head of the sofa, and sat there for most of the night. Tense, not wanting to move as the heat gradually left me, as the sweat evaporated and I became conscious again of brittle air outside the windows searing and howling through the streets and over the frozen cars hunched like sheep all the way down towards Lake Ontario. It was a new winter and I was already dreaming of Asia.
From Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje ©1982. Published by Vintage Canada.