Michael Ondaatje, celebrated author of "The English Patient," is this year's winner of the St. Louis Literary Award. He will accept the award Oct. 6.
“Michael Ondaatje’s exquisitely intense language stirs our senses, sharpens our intellect, and sparks our imagination.” Philip Boehm, chairman of the award committee, said in a statement. “He is a master of evoking places as well as people and summoning the mysteries lurking with each.”
Although best known for that novel, which became an Academy Award-winning best picture, Ondaatje's work also includes memoir, poetry and film. Books include "The Cat’s Table," "Divisadero" and "In the Skin of a Lion." Collections of poetry include "Secular Love," "The Cinnamon Peeler" and "Handwriting." He has also made two documentary films, "Sons of Captain Poetry" and "Clinton Special."
The 72-year-old writer was born in Sri Lanka and spent much of his childhood and college years in Great Britain. Now living in Toronto, Ondaatje is a Canadian citizen.
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As the latest winner of the St. Louis Literary Award, he joins a long list of celebrated writers, including Saul Bellow, Salman Rushdie, Chinua Achebe, Tennessee Williams and Joan Didion. The award has been given by the St. Louis University Library Associates since 1967. It has brought the biggest names in literature to the city.
Coincidentally, Ondaatje spoke to a sold-out crowd in Columbia, Mo., late last month for the city's first Unbound Book Festival.
Details about his visit to St. Louis will be available closer to the October event. For more about the award and St. Louis University Library Associates, go here.