The Cat's Table

Front Cover
Random House UK Limited, Jul 1, 2012 - Fiction - 384 pages
4 Reviews

In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy boards a huge liner bound for England - a 'castle that was to cross the sea'. At mealtimes, he is placed at the lowly 'Cat's Table' with an eccentric group of grown-ups and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys become involved in the worlds and stories of the adults around them, tumbling from one adventure and delicious discovery to another, 'bursting all over the place like freed mercury'. And at night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner - his crime and fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever.

As the narrative moves from the decks and holds of the ship and the boy's adult years, it tells a spellbinding story about the difference between the magical openness of childhood and the burdens of earned understanding - about a life-long journey that began unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage, when all on board were 'free of the realities of the earth'.

With the ocean liner a brilliant microcosm for the floating dream of childhood, The Cat's Table is a vivid, poignant and thrilling book, full of Ondaatje's trademark set-pieces and breathtaking images: a story told with a child's sense of wonder by a novelist at the very height of his powers.

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Review: The Cat's Table

User Review  - Rhiannon Ryder - Goodreads

Many moons ago, back in a immigrant lit course, I was introduced to the wonder of Michael Ondaatje's beautiful writing. The English Patient was a transcendent experience for me, and then later I read ... Read full review

Review: The Cat's Table

User Review  - Nancy - Goodreads

The Cat's Table is told through the eyes of Michael, one of three pre-pubescent boys traveling unchaperoned from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to England sometime during the 1950s. The three become fast pals ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

Michael Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka in 1943. In the 1950s he moved to England, and went to school in south London. In 1962 he emigrated to Canada, where he has lived ever since. His books include his memoir, Running in the Family, numerous collections of poetry, and five novels - including The English Patient which won the 1992 Booker Prize.

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