Kate Kellaway

But When Does She Clean Her Teeth?

Anil's Ghost


Bloomsbury 256pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Michael Ondaatje specialises in hauntings. He has no time for the ordinary. His last novel, The English Patient, won the Booker Prize, and no one who read it – or saw Anthony Minghella’s film – will ever forget the Icarus-like figure at its centre. I admired the novel, but with reservations. I felt, without quite being able to put my finger on it, that there was something bogus about Ondaatje. A softness about the narrative? Something precious about the writing? In particular, I mutinied against the routine claim that he is a poet in prose.

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