Divisadero: Book summary and reviews of Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje
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  • Published in USA  May 2007
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

In the 1970s in northern California, near Gold Rush country, a father and his teenage daughters, Anna and Claire, work their farm with the help of Coop, an enigmatic young man who makes his home with them. Theirs is a makeshift family, until it is riven by an incident of violence — of both hand and heart — that sets fire to the rest of their lives.

Divisadero takes us from the city of San Francisco to the raucous backrooms of Nevada’s casinos, and eventually to the landscape of south central France. It is here, outside a small rural village, that Anna becomes immersed in the life and the world of a writer from an earlier time — Lucien Segura. His compelling story, which has its beginnings at the turn of the century, circles around "the raw truth" of Anna's own life, the one she's left behind but can never truly leave. And as the narrative moves back and forth in time and place, we discover each of the characters managing to find some foothold in a present rough-hewn from the past.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Ondaatje's first fiction in six years lacks the gut punch of Anil's Ghost and The English Patient, but delivers his trademark seductive prose, quixotic characters and psychological intricacy." - PW.

"Starred Review. The new novel by the author of The English Patient (1992) is easy to read, not because its theme and plot are simple but because the reader simply wants to read it." - Booklist.

"Not to be missed . . . Intricate, lyrical, profoundly moving, this brilliantly imagined meditation on love, loss and memory unforgettably dramatizes the rueful realization that '[t]here is the hidden presence of others in us . . . . [and] We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border that we cross.'" - Kirkus.

"“A heart-wrenching story about a tight-knit family that’s shattered forever by one pivotal event . . . Divisadero has been called Ondaatje’s most accessible novel, perhaps because it's about the universal subject of family . . . Ondaatje’s writing is evocative, powerful and deeply intimate. The reader can't help but care about all of the characters." - Calgary Herald.

"Divisadero shines with an indisputable and incomparable power . . . [It] is so rich that every description or summary beggars its accomplishment . . . Savouring Ondaatje’s subtle expertise in word cuisine is an indelible pleasure, pleasure that, incredibly, deepens with each book penned by this genius (there is no other word for a writer of such grace and depth) . . . Although the attentive reader will delight in every sentence, will revel in the vividly original language and narrative approach, Divisadero refuses the aggrandizement of pyrotechnics. By virtue of that reserve, the novel accomplishes an intimacy that is extraordinary, nakedly beautiful." - Globe and Mail (Toronto).

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Author Information

Michael Ondaatje Author Biography

Photo © Adam Elder/Pacha/Corbis

Michael Ondaatje is the author of five previous novels, a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. The English Patient won the Booker Prize and was an Academy Award-winning film; Anil's Ghost won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Giller Prize, and the Prix Médicis. Born in Sri Lanka, Ondaatje now lives in Toronto.

Author Interview

Name Pronunciation
Michael Ondaatje: on-DARt-she (the t is not silent but is barely heard and rolls into the final syllable)

Other books by Michael Ondaatje at BookBrowse
  • The Cat's Table jacket
  • Anil's Ghost jacket
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