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Talking to the author

Michael Ondaatje speaks about his new novel and our May book of the month, Divisadero

Recently nominated for the Man Booker International Prize for his body of work, including The English Patient and Anil’s Ghost, Michael Ondaatje has written another powerful and beautiful tale with his latest work, Divisadero, our pick for the May book of the month. Visit our book club forum to find out how you can win a signed copy of Divisadero.

Click here to listen in as Ellen Seligman, publisher of fiction with McClelland & Stewart, talks to Ondaatje about the intimacy of his characters and researching the ins and out of gambling in Lake Tahoe.

Book synopsis

In 1970s 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.

Breathtakingly evoked and with unforgettable characters, Divisadero is a multilayered novel about passion, loss and the unshakable past, about the often discordant demands of family, love and memory. It is Michael Ondaatje’s most intimate and beautiful novel to date.

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