Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
A novel

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Yet his burnished, lukewarm sentences don’t snap to life like the people he enjoys. Reading him on these scruffy men and women is like listening to someone try to play “Long Tall Sally” on solo cello. It’s not awful, but it’s weird.
-NY Times

Synopsis

NATIONAL BEST SELLER

From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of The English Patient: 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 fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, 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, 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.
 

About Michael Ondaatje

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Michael Ondaatje is the author of eleven books of poetry, a memoir, and six novels, including The Cat's Table, coming in October 2011. He lives in Toronto. Pico Iyer is the author of two novels and seven works of nonfiction. His new book, The Man Within My Head, comes out in 2012.
 
Published May 8, 2018 by Knopf. 305 pages
Genres: War, Literature & Fiction, History, Romance. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on May 27 2018
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Warlight
All: 7 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 3

Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Mark Athitakis on May 04 2018

But Ondaatje gets to have it both ways: His elegant prose is a pleasure in its own right and a scrim that Nathaniel layers over his own story, protecting himself against how abandoned he’s been. A love of secrets, for better or for worse, is his inheritance.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Penelope Lively on Jun 07 2018

This work becomes, for him, an enlightenment. But it serves as a nice illustration of the way the viewpoint of the present reconstructs the past, which is the paramount subject matter of this intricate and absorbing novel.

Read Full Review of Warlight: A novel | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on May 07 2018

Yet his burnished, lukewarm sentences don’t snap to life like the people he enjoys. Reading him on these scruffy men and women is like listening to someone try to play “Long Tall Sally” on solo cello. It’s not awful, but it’s weird.

Read Full Review of Warlight: A novel | See more reviews from NY Times

LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Bethanne Patrick on May 03 2018

The poetic use of natural imagery in "Warlight" will keep readers ruminating on how easily the world around us adapts to human foibles.

Read Full Review of Warlight: A novel | See more reviews from LA Times

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Andrew Motion on Jun 16 2018

...we might equally well feel that characters have been flattened by our simply not knowing enough about them, and that our interest in their doings is diminished by the same means.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Alex Preston on Jun 05 2018

Warlight’s brilliance comes from telling a familiar story – the female spy has become an established literary trope, from William Boyd to Simon Mawer – in a way that gives us all the pleasures of the genre without ever feeling hackneyed or predictable.

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NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on May 08 2018

The murkiness, camouflage, and subterfuge add intrigue and atmosphere to Warlight, but many of the characters remain hazy, sometimes frustratingly so, as if you were trying to make out their features through sunglasses at night.

Read Full Review of Warlight: A novel | See more reviews from NPR

Reader Rating for Warlight
72%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 86 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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