Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian poet, novelist, editor, and filmmaker. He is best known for his Booker Prize-winning novel 'The English Patient,' which was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film. Ondaatje's work is characterized by its rich, lyrical prose and its exploration of themes such as identity, memory, and the intersection of history and personal experience.


This list of books are ONLY the books that have been ranked on the lists that are aggregated on this site. This is not a comprehensive list of all books by this author.

  1. 1. The English Patient

    "The English Patient" is a story of four diverse individuals brought together at an Italian villa during the final days of World War II. The narrative revolves around a severely burned man who can't remember his name or past, a young Canadian nurse who tends to him, a Sikh British Army sapper, and a Canadian thief. As they navigate their own traumas and losses, the past of the mysterious patient slowly unravels, revealing a tale of love, identity, and betrayal.

    The 437th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Anil's Ghost

    "Anil's Ghost" is a gripping tale of a forensic anthropologist who returns to her native Sri Lanka in the midst of its civil war. She partners with local archaeologist, Sarath, to investigate a skeleton discovered in an ancient burial site, which they believe might be a victim of the war. The narrative explores the horrors of war, the quest for truth, and the struggle for personal and national identity in a land where the past and present are inextricably intertwined.

    The 6189th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. In The Skin Of A Lion

    Set in the early 20th century, the novel paints a vivid picture of the lives of immigrants and workers in Toronto, weaving together their personal stories with the city's historical events. The narrative follows the protagonist, a young man from rural Ontario, as he moves to the bustling city and becomes entangled in the lives of a diverse cast of characters, including a wealthy industrialist, a love interest with a mysterious past, and a group of bridge builders. Through his interactions and relationships, the novel explores themes of love, labor, and the unsung contributions of immigrants to the building of a city, all while the protagonist embarks on a personal journey of self-discovery and connection within the urban landscape.

    The 6713th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. The Cat's Table

    In this evocative novel, the narrative unfolds through the eyes of an eleven-year-old boy who embarks on a sea voyage from Sri Lanka to England on the ship Oronsay in the early 1950s. During the journey, he is seated at the "cat's table"—the least prestigious place—along with a diverse group of adults and two other boys, with whom he forms a strong bond. As they sail across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the protagonist experiences a series of adventures and misadventures, uncovering the hidden depths of the adult world and the complexities of life. The voyage becomes a transformative journey for him, shaping his understanding of friendship, love, and loss, in a narrative that beautifully intertwines the past and the present.

    The 9308th Greatest Book of All Time