From the internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of The English Patient comes a mesmerizing new novel that tells a dramatic story set in the decade after World War II through the lives of a small group of unexpected characters and two teenagers whose lives are indelibly shaped by their unwitting involvement.
In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself — shadowed and luminous at once — we read the story of 14-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war, all of whom seem, in some way, determined now to protect, and educate — in rather unusual ways — Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? And what does it mean when the siblings' mother returns after months of silence without their father, explaining nothing and excusing nothing? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all that he didn't know and understand in that time, and it is this journey — through facts, recollection and imagination — that he narrates in this masterwork from one of the great writers of our time. (From McClelland & Stewart)
Warlight was named one of Barack Obama's favourite books of 2018. It is currently shortlisted for 2019 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction.
- The best Canadian fiction of 2018
- The CBC Books summer reading list: 18 cool books to read while the weather heats up
- Love historical fiction? Check out these 12 Canadian novels
- 75 facts you might not know about Michael Ondaatje
- How Canada made Michael Ondaatje a writer
- Barbara Reid's favourite Canadian book of 2018: Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
- The top 10 bestselling Canadian books of 2018
From the book
In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals. We were living on a street in London called Ruvigny Gardens, and one morning either our mother or our father suggested that after breakfast the family have a talk, and they told us that they would be leaving us and going to Singapore for a year. Not too long, they said, but it would not be a brief trip either. We would of course be well cared for in their absence. I remember our father was sitting on one of those uncomfortable iron garden chairs as he broke the news, while our mother, in a summer dress just behind his shoulder, watched how we responded. After a while she took my sister Rachel's hand and held it against her waist, as if she could give it warmth.
From Warlightby Michael Ondaatje ©2018. Published by McClelland & Stewart.