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.