2000 Books You Must Read: 1. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

The idea just happened to me. Out of nowhere. List making is something I love. It is something I cannot live without and no better list/s to make than that of books. Books you have loved and cherished over the years. Books that take you to a different land and transport you to places that you begin to call your own. Characters who make you laugh, cry and live a lot more than you would have thought of. Life in almost 2000 books and more.

So here is my first recommendation, which I think you will love. I hope you do. Every day, I will try introducing you to new writers and books I have loved over the years. Happy Reading!

The English Patient
Michael Ondaatje
Bloomsbury India
ISBN: 978-0747572596
Pages: 336
Genre: Literary Fiction, Love, War, WWII
Rating: 10/10

The English Patient - 1

The English Patient - 2

The English Patient - 3

I have three copies of this book. In almost all possible covers. There are more I am sure, which I might own at some time. There is something about “The English Patient” by Michael Ondaatje that makes me want to talk about it and tell the whole world to read it. It is that good. Let me rephrase that. It is that brilliant. I cry every time I read it. Not because it is tragic (well that too) but the way it tells you about love and life. It almost will make you believe in love, all over again. Very few books are able to do that and this to me is on the top of the list. (This list is not by grade or rank though. It is very random).

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje is about three fractured souls, lost in a villa towards the last days of WWII and how they find themselves through an unknown mysterious patient, who is assumed to be English. Hana, a grieving Canadian nurse with a past of her own, the one which is closely linked to Caravaggio, the thief. There is also a Sikh sapper, Kip, who becomes a pillar for Hana and midst all this is the life of the patient, which he once shared with the love of his life.

Everything is fluid in this book. It is almost dream-like and guilt and anger that seethe beneath the story of love and war. Ondaatje uncovers every single emotion and dissects it like an expert – he makes it possible for the reader to feel. It is almost as if he is a writer, with the soul of a poet. The sentences are magnificent. The words are like none other – something you cannot let go of. The book will demand that you reread it and perhaps you will. This is my fourth time by the way.

Here are some wonderful quotes from it:

“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead.”

“A postcard. Neat handwriting fills the rectangle.

Half my days I cannot bear to touch you.

The rest of my time I feel like it doesn’t matter if I will ever see you again. It isn’t the morality, it’s how much you can bear.

No date. No name attached.”

“I believe this. When we meet those we fall in love with, there is an aspect of our spirit that is historian, a bit of a pedant who reminisces or remembers a meeting when the other has passed by innocently…but all parts of the body must be ready for the other, all atoms must jump in one direction for desire to occur.”

“From this point on, she whispered, we will either find or lose our souls.”

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8 thoughts on “2000 Books You Must Read: 1. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

  1. Nish

    I have this book on my reading list. Currently (or more accurately the past couple of years), I have been trying to read as many Man Bookers as possible, and this is next on my list. Wonderful to hear this recommendation. I am really looking forward to the book now 🙂

    Also, great blog. I just discovered it today and am now following.

    Reply
  2. misssumman

    This is my all time favourite book ever, the romance and affair is just beautiful, the setting is perfect and the characters are so brilliantly juxtaposed that they could easily pass as real people!

    Reply

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