Anil’s GhostPosted: 2011/10/17
Ondaatje, Michael. Anil’s Ghost. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. EPUB file.
Disclaimer: This was my first electronic book. I am trying very hard to trust that everything that was in the published hardcopy was present in the e-book version. I have to believe I didn’t miss out on something by reading this on an iPad.
Anil’s Ghost is the clever weaving of fact and fiction. In the mid-1980s Sri Lanka was in a state of civil unrest. It went beyond a north versus south conflict and involved illegal government activity. Anil’s Ghost is the fictional account set in the middle of a political and historical truth.
Anil Tissera is a forensic anthropologist returning to Sri Lanka after a fifteen year absence. As part of a human rights organization her obligation to investigate and ultimately uncover the truth about ethnic and religious killings occurring during the country’s civil war. Her entire attention remains focussed on one particular skeleton she nicknames “Sailor.” His remains have been found in an ancient burial ground and yet anthropologically he is considered a contemporary. Upon arriving in Sri Lanka she becomes paired with man she doesn’t know if she can trust. Sarath is quiet and keeps many secrets. What is amazing about Anil’s Ghost is the lush language and the intricate character development. Each chapter is dedicated to the unfolding of someone’s life, past and present. This technique brings a fullness to the storyline. In the end you feel as if every character has purpose to the plot.
Most interesting – Anil. Hands down. I don’t really understand her obsession with changing her name. She actually “buys” one of her brother’s names because he has more than one. The way she buys this name is not explicitly spelled out, but it seems ominous.
Favorite lines: “She was working with a man who was efficient in his privacy, who would never unknot himself for anyone” (p 60), “She would not step back from her fury” (p 116), and ”One can die from private woes as easily as from public ones” (p 237).
Line that gave me pause: “They had both hoped for a seven-bangled night” (p 118).
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the simple chapter called “Canadian Fiction” (p 51) and more interestingly from More Book Lust in two different chapters. First, in “It Was a Dark and Stormy Novel” (p 129), and again in the chapter called “Sri Lanka: Exotic and Troubled (p 213).