Year Of Last Things

Item Information
Item#: 9780771012310
Author Ondaatje, Michael
On Hand 3

One of the Globe and Mail's most anticipated books of 2024

With A Year of Last Things, acclaimed novelist Michael Ondaatje returns to poetry, where he began his career over fifty years ago, and what a return it is.

Born in Sri Lanka during the Second World War, Ondaatje was sent as a child to school in London, and later moved to Canada. While he has lived here since, these poems reflect the life of a writer, traveller and watcher of the world – describing himself as a “mongrel,” someone born out of diverse cultures. Here, rediscovering the influence of every border crossed, he moves back and forth in time, from a childhood in Sri Lanka to Moliere’s chair during his last stage performance, from icons in Bulgarian churches to the California coast and loved Canadian rivers, merging memory with the present, looking back on a life of displacement and discovery, love and loss. At first sight it is a glittering collection of fragments and memories – but small, intricate pieces of a life are precisely what matter most to Ondaatje.  They make an emotional history. As he writes in the opening poem: “Reading the lines he loves / he slips them into a pocket, / wishes to die with his clothes / full of torn free stanzas / and the telephone numbers / of his children in far cities”.  Poetry – where language is made to work hardest and burns with a gem-like flame – is what Ondaatje has returned to in this intimate history.

Review Quotes
One of the Globe and Mail's most anticipated books of 2024

“The dazzling latest by Ondaatje (The Story) brings his formidable literary gifts and imagination to bear on questions of memory and artistic process. Tenderly plumbing friends, ex-lovers, works of art, and ‘echoing rivers where we lost and found ourselves,’ he writes of ‘all those small recalls of this and that/ before our walk up a staircase into the dark.’ [...] This collection radiates the joy of a fully realized, literary life.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Indeed, there is much here that belongs to us all. A Year of Last Things is a collection that bears multiple and complex readings. Ondaatje’s finest."
Quill & Quire (starred review)

“A powerful, thoughtful collection of observations and contemplations; a beautiful and valuable addition to the world of poetry by one of its most inspiring writers.”
Library Journal

"Each new book of Michael Ondaatje’s is a literary event, but that is particularly true for his books of poetry. In A Year of Last Things he comes close to writing something like a timeless poem, 'a memory poem' that reflects outside and inside time at the same moment, recording the mercurial, mysterious feeling of being alive. The poems become intimate, unresolved stories, loyal to feeling and presence, the lyricism of dreams applied to narratives of lives and landscapes. A Year of Last Things is a remarkable, incomparable new collection."
—Terrance Hayes

"Michael Ondaatje’s love of the world and its wonders, the kindness he offers, the elegant lyricism of his sentences, the joy of storytelling . . . restore belief in the beauty and power of literature and, by extension, of humanity." 
—Aleksandar Hemon

"Michael Ondaatje defies the normal distinction between poet and novelist. His writing is consistently turned to a visionary pitch."
—Graham Swift

"My life always stops for a new book by Michael Ondaatje."
—Jhumpa Lahiri