Michael Ondaatje was born on September 12, 1943 in Sri Lanka. In 1954 he emigrated with his family to England, where he studied at Dulwich College. In 1962 he moved to Canada, becoming a Canadian citizen and completing further studies. In 1970 he moved to Toronto, where he teaches English literature at York University’s Glendon College.
He became involved in publishing in the 1960s, supporting Toronto’s Coach House Books, a small independent publisher, and working as a poetry editor while launching his career as a writer with the publication of collections of poems including, in particular, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-Handed Poems, 1970. His first novel, Coming Through Slaughter, a fictionalized version of the life of jazz musician Buddy Bolden, was published in 1976 and was later adapted for the stage.
In 1992 Ondaatje published his most wellknown novel, The English Patient, which earned him the Booker prize. The novel was reprinted in France under the title Le Patient Anglais after the release of the eponymous film by Anthony Minghella, which won the 1977 Oscar for best film and earned French actress Juliette Binoche the Oscar for best actress in a supporting role. In 2000, Ondaatje’s novel Anil's Ghost was awarded Canada’s Giller Prize and received a Governor General’s award, as well as France’s Prix Medici for foreign literature.
Ondaatje was made an Officer in the Order of Canada (OC) in 1988 and two years later became an honorary foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
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