A Year of Last Things

Hardback (21 Mar 2024)

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Publisher's Synopsis

With A Year of Last Things, acclaimed novelist Michael Ondaatje returns to poetry, looking back on a life of displacement and discovery

'My life always stops for a new book by him' JHUMPA LAHIRI, author of The Namesake

'Timeless... Remarkable, incomparable' TERRANCE HAYES, author of So to Speak

Born in Sri Lanka during the Second World War, Ondaatje was sent as a child to school in London, and later moved to Canada. While he has lived there since, these poems reflect the life of a writer, traveller and watcher of the world - describing himself as a 'mongrel', someone born out of diverse cultures.

Here, rediscovering the influence of every border crossed, he moves back and forth in time, from a childhood in Sri Lanka to Molière's chair during his last stage performance, from icons in Bulgarian churches to the Californian coast and loved Canadian rivers, merging memory with the present, looking back on a life of displacement and discovery, love and loss. As he writes in the opening poem:

Reading the lines he loves
he slips them into a pocket,
wishes to die with his clothes
full of
torn-free stanzas
and the telephone numbers
of his children in far cities


Poetry - where language is made to work hardest and burns with a gem-like flame - is what Ondaatje has returned to in this intimate history.

Book information

ISBN: 9781787335035
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Imprint: Jonathan Cape
Pub date:
DEWEY: 811.54
DEWEY edition: 23
Language: English
Sales rank: 1031
Number of pages: 128
Weight: 240g
Height: 224mm
Width: 143mm
Spine width: 16mm