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Anil's Ghost (Anglais) Relié – avril 2000


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Chapter One

She arrived in early March, the plane landing at Katunayake airport before the dawn. They had raced it ever since coming over the west coast of India, so that now passengers stepped onto the tarmac in the dark.

By the time she was out of the terminal the sun had risen. In the West she'd read, The dawn comes up like thunder, and she knew she was the only one in the classroom to recognize the phrase physically. Though it was never abrupt thunder to her. It was first of all the noise of chickens and carts and modest morning rain or a man squeakily cleaning the windows with newspaper in another part of the house.

As soon as her passport with the light-blue UN bar was processed, a young official approached and moved alongside her. She struggled with her suitcases but he offered no help.



'How long has it been? You were born here, no?'

'Fifteen years.'

'You still speak Sinhala?'

'A little. Look, do you mind if I don't talk in the car on the way into Colombo — I'm jet-lagged. I just want to look. Maybe drink some toddy before it gets too late. Is Gabriel's Saloon still there for head massages?'

'In Kollupitiya, yes. I knew his father.'

'My father knew his father too.'

Without touching a single suitcase he organized the loading of the bags into the car. 'Toddy!' He laughed, continuing his conversation. 'First thing after fifteen years. The return of the prodigal.'

'I'm not a prodigal.'

An hour later he shook hands energetically with her at the door of the small house they had rented for her.

'There's a meeting tomorrow with Mr. Diyasena.'

'Thank you.'

'You have friends here, no?'

'Not really.'



Anil was glad to be alone. There was a scattering of relatives in Colombo, but she had not contacted them to let them know she was returning. She unearthed a sleeping pill from her purse, turned on the fan, chose a sarong and climbed into bed. The thing she had missed most of all were the fans. After she had left Sri Lanka at eighteen, her only real connection was the new sarong her parents sent her every Christmas (which she dutifully wore), and news clippings of swim meets. Anil had been an exceptional swimmer as a teenager, and the family never got over it; the talent was locked to her for life. As far as Sri Lankan families were concerned, if you were a well-known cricketer you could breeze into a career in business on the strength of your spin bowling or one famous inning at the Royal-Thomian match. Anil at sixteen had won the two-mile swim race that was held by the Mount Lavinia Hotel.

Each year a hundred people ran into the sea, swam out to a buoy a mile away and swam back to the same beach, the fastest male and the fastest female fêted in the sports pages for a day or so. There was a photograph of her walking out of the surf that January morning — which The Observer had used with the headline 'Anil Wins It!' and which her father kept in his office. It had been studied by every distant member of the family (those in Australia, Malaysia and England, as well as those on the island), not so much because of her success but for her possible good looks now and in the future. Did she look too large in the hips?

The photographer had caught Anil's tired smile in the photograph, her right arm bent up to tear off her rubber swimming cap, some out-of-focus stragglers (she had once known who they were). The black-and-white picture had remained an icon in the family for too long.



She pushed the sheet down to the foot of the bed and lay there in the darkened room, facing the waves of air. The island no longer held her by the past. She'd spent the fifteen years since ignoring that early celebrity. Anil had read documents and news reports, full of tragedy, and she had now lived abroad long enough to interpret Sri Lanka with a long-distance gaze. But here it was a more complicated world morally. The streets were still streets, the citizens remained citizens. They shopped, changed jobs, laughed. Yet the darkest Greek tragedies were innocent compared with what was happening here. Heads on stakes. Skeletons dug out of a cocoa pit in Matale. At university Anil had translated lines from Archilochus — In the hospitality of war we left them their dead to remember us by. But here there was no such gesture to the families of the dead, not even the information of who the enemy was.


From the Hardcover edition. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"Unquestionably Ondaatje's finest work." --The Globe and Mail


"From the universally acclaimed novelist and poet, winner of the Governor General's Award, the Booker Prize, and the Canada-Australia Prize: "A powerful and resonant novel--etched against a background of natural beauty and human brutality [that] assumes the tensions of a thriller--. Ondaatje's novel satisfies one of the most exalted purposes of fiction: to illuminate the human condition through pity and terror. It may well be the capstone of his career." -Publishers Weekly

--Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.


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57 internautes sur 59 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An Island Paradise in Flames 17 juillet 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Anil's Ghost is set on the island of Sri Lanka against the backdrop of the civil war turmoil of the mid-1980s and 1990s. Here, three opposing groups battle for control: the government, the anti-government insurgents in the south and the separatist guerrillas in the north.
The book centers around the character of Anil Tissera, a thirty-three year old Sri Lankan born forensic anthropologist sent to her homeland as a United Nations human rights investigator whose mission is to explore various "disappearances," i.e., murders.
Her government-appointed partner is Sarath Diyasera, a forty-nine year old government representative who gives Anil little reason to relax. Although Sarath is capable of reconstructing a vibrant picture of the past based on the flimsiest of clues, his motives and alliances seem more than slightly questionable. Sarath, however, is often misunderstood, for this is a man who understands the moral complexities of the modern world in their historical context, who knows what can and cannot be done and who views "truth" as the ambiguous statement it is.
While excavating a site in a sanctuary containing nineteenth century bones, a skeleton of recent date is unearthed, one whose remains also appear to have been moved twice.
This unidentified body is given the name, "Sailor," and provides the catalyst for Anil and Sarath's search, a search which leads to the introduction of several engaging secondary characters: Palipana, an interpreter of ancient ruins, seventy-six, blind and living in a grove of ascetics; Gamini, Sarath's younger brother, a dedicated doctor and participant in a tragedy whose work consists of patching up the war's innocent victims; and Ananda Udagama, a drunken miner and artist whose skill and genius allowed him to paint the eyes of the statues of Buddha, a ritual that brought the statue to life.
Ondaatje threads his way between past and present, giving us some stories that relate to the plot and others that do not. Some major plot lines and characters are dealt with far too swiftly and summarily as Ondaatje takes off on yet another political tangent. At times, the characters, who aren't developed enough to form a connection with, seem to be completely forgotten until Ondaatje suddenly makes an abrupt turn and brings us back to the story at hand.
Those expecting the lush, dense prose of The English Patient will find themselves sorely disappointed. Yes, the trademark Ondaatje poetic prose does remain (though toned down) and it is gorgeous, but it is simply not enough to sustain us in what should have been a larger, more fleshed-out novel.
Anil, herself, seems out of place in this book, for she is essentially a Westerner. Although born in Sri Lanka, she is not of Sri Lanka and does not share the same values and ideals as those with whom she interacts. Had Ondaatje concentrated only on those who had lived their lives amid the fire and flames of this island paradise, the book would have proven far more compelling and true.
The final chapter, however, is beautiful and touching, in part because it deals not with Anil or the crime with which she became obsessed, but with Ananda and the spirit that is truly Sri Lanka.
Ondaatje has done a marvelous job of dissecting the secrets, identities and memories that form the intricate layers of Sri Lanka and its tumultuous past. His quest seems to have been a personal one, one that was both essential and compelling. It is just not quite as essential for the reader.
66 internautes sur 70 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Human Geography 27 mai 2000
Par Richard R Ronald - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Many have said they are disappointed with the book, but have hinted the writing is far subtler than in earlier books. That's exactly it.
While there are a few pages of less-than-stellar prose (for a 300-page book, it is extremely tight), Ondaatje has pulled off some amazing things here. Foremost is his ability to link the landscape with the human. From diamond and plumbago mines to the ruins of palaces to the inscription filled caves that once housed ascetic monks, the author lets the geography and conflict of Sri Lanka reveal the geography and conflict of being.
And just as the characters hoard individual inscriptions (Warning: WHEN IT RAINS, THESE STEPS ARE BEAUTIFUL or more brutually "In diagnosing a vascular injury, a high index of suspicion is necesary."), you'll come across sentences, paragraphs, pages you'll want to commit to memory.
Finally, the experience of discovery, the delving and decryption involved in reading the book is so, well, lovingly mirrored in the character's investigations (of self, memory, identity) that you read with the sense that you are doing something important, that you are ferreting out a deep and wonderful secret about the human experience. That you, like the artists and doctors in the story, are revealing pain only to heal it, figuring the dead only to honor and remember them.
Read, I implore you, this wonderful, horrible, beautiful book.
31 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Ellen's Review 22 janvier 2001
Par Ellen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I truly enjoyed reading Anil's Ghost and was suprised at some of the negative feedback people had about the experience of reading the book. Some other readers have called the book boring and couln't even finish, but I had a very different experience. I appreciated the slow, careful time Ondaatje took to develop his characters and to tell his story. The lack of "fast paced" plot made me notice and enjoy the revealing details of the book and the rich words used to describe Shri Lanka. I thought Anil was a fascinating character, though there were times in the book where I wanted more of her, especiallly on a more emotional level. The book is dealing with many kinds of intensities and it can be difficult to process. The intensity of the political situation in Shri Lanka is intertwined with the complexities of various relationships. I started reading this book expecting it to be like The English Patient. This was quite an error and I was pleasently surprised. Don't read Anil's Ghost if you are interested in a book with a quick revealing plot and defined characters. The plot slowly reveals itself to create a book that is intriguing, powerful and well worth reading.
25 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Ondaatje is an artist 15 mai 2000
Par greglor - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This is a really great book. However, those looking for a repeat of The English Patient may be disappointed. While the writing style is very similar (Ondaatje's poetic descriptions) the organization is much clearer and easier to follow. It isn't until 2/3 of the way into the book that he begins to mix events around. But it works! The characters are as fascinating as those we know from The English Patient, but the plot is far more interesting, and his descriptions near sublime. This book is poetic, disturbing and uplifting all at the same time. One can imagine that this is a topic that is closer to the heart of the author, but no matter what, it comes through as a thoughtful, inspired work of art.
22 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A tremendous poetic novel 3 janvier 2001
Par Ronald I. Miller - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Although there are many reviews of "Anil's Ghost" already posted, I felt compelled to write another on the grounds that many reviewers appear to have not fully appreciated Ondaatje's goals in this book. I share the opinion of some of the other readers, that this is Ondaatje's best work to date. In my case I'll go farther and say this is the best novel I've read in several years. Some people seem to be finding the book dull, and it is certainly not standard best-seller fare. It is subtle, allusive, and not driven by plot. Although it concerns the civil war in Sri Lanka, it is not *about* it. Although it concerns the search of a forensic anthropologist for the origin of a possibly-murdered skeleton it is not about that either. Readers who approach the novel as mystery are bound for disappointment, because this is not a novel of revelation, but one of concealment. It would perhaps be best to consider "Anil's Ghost" as a poetic meditation on the nature and search for truth. As it examines truth from many angles, it comes to no pat conclusions, which may also be troubling for some readers. Instead it uses the compelling characters and dramatic structure to illustrate the complexity of truth, while not absolving us of the duty of searching for it. The specific setting is necessary for the development of the themes, which are, nonetheless, universal. The prose is perhaps not as intensely beautiful as that of "The English Patient," but that is appropriate for the subject matter. Ondaatje has written a story of torture and murder which is neither thoroughly dark, nor simplistically heroic. Instead he gives us a multilayered truth in which the deepest darkness still allows a space for hope. It is a subtle, brilliant, stunning book.
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