Announcing our Top 20 Books of 2022

Seafaring Terms: Background information when reading The Cat's Table

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Cat's Table

A Novel

by Michael Ondaatje

The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje X
The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2011, 288 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2012, 288 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Beverly Melven
Buy This Book

About this Book

Seafaring Terms

This article relates to The Cat's Table

Print Review

While the terms used on a ship sound familiar to me, I often don't really know what they mean. Many people recognize that a cabin is a room, and a porthole is a window, but what exactly is a purser, and which direction is the stern? If you're not sure, the definitions of the seafaring expressions below - all used in The Cat's Table - might help you navigate the book.

  • officers' mess: The room where the officers eat.

  • purser: An officer who handles financial accounts and keeps money and valuables for the passengers.

  • pilot: Someone who is brought on to help the ship safely navigate difficult passages, often while leaving or entering a harbor. While on an airplane the pilot is likely the Captain, on a ship he almost never is. The pilot is usually transported to the ship by a small or tug boat and leaves once the vessel has passed through the assigned area.

  • lido deck: The section of the ship that contains an outdoor pool and the accompanying recreational areas. The term lido is Italian for beach.

  • stateroom: The captain's or superior officer's room.

  • billet: The place (like a bunk or cabin) assigned to a member of the ship's crew.

  • the bridge: The raised platform from which a ship is navigated, often including a pilot house and a chart house.

  • bow/stern: The front and back of the boat, respectively.

  • bollard: A short, vertical post used for mooring.

  • gangplank: A small, movable, bridge-like structure for use by people boarding or leaving a ship.

The ship in The Cat's Table is an Orient Line vessel, much like the 1948 P&O Orient Liner pictured below, which Mynah describes as a "castle that was to cross the sea."

Orient Line ship

Filed under Cultural Curiosities

Article by Beverly Melven

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Cat's Table. It originally ran in October 2011 and has been updated for the June 2012 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join and Save 20%!

Become a member and
discover exceptional books.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    Bewilderment
    by Richard Powers
    In 2019, Richard Powers won the Pulitzer Prize for The Overstory, a sprawling novel whose characters...
  • Book Jacket: I'm the Girl
    I'm the Girl
    by Courtney Summers
    YA author Courtney Summers doesn't believe in shielding her teenage readers from the world's darkest...
  • Book Jacket: They're Going to Love You
    They're Going to Love You
    by Meg Howrey
    Teenage Carlisle lives with her mother in Ohio, but their relationship has never felt particularly ...
  • Book Jacket: The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
    The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
    by Isaac Blum
    That irreplaceable feeling of everyone knowing your name. The yearning to be anonymous. Parents ...

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

W N, W Not

and be entered to win..

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Ways We Hide
by Kristina McMorris
From the bestselling author of Sold On A Monday, a sweeping tale of an illusionist recruited by British intelligence in World War II.
Who Said...

Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.