My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ondaatje is a master of subtlety, of the ambiguity of life, of the grey that washes extreme situations. He is at his best in Anil’s Ghost.
The story itself is a simple one: a woman (Anil) searches for the identity of a skeleton she finds when on an international human rights mission in war ravaged Sri Lanka. But as with most stories Ondaatje tells, simplicity becomes weighted with the emotional enganglements of both political and personal history. There is a conversation beneath the dialogue, a narrative never told but eloquent in its silence.
In some ways, I was reminded of Geoff Ryman’s The King’s Last Song. There is that same sense of a country unable to celebrate its vibrant history, left only with silent screams of those slaughtered on the altar of political expedience, and their ghosts. There is an eeriness in the environment Ondaatje creates.
Deserving of it accolades, Anil’s Ghost is a masterpiece.