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Michael Ondaatje: A Year of Last Things with Jordan Pavlin

Thursday, April 4, 2024


6:00 pm-7:30 pm Eastern

Rizzoli Bookstore, 1133 Broadway, New York, New York

Michael Ondaatje: The Year of Last Things with Jordan Pavlin

He learned again the breaking line’s breath-like leap…

Join Michael Ondaatje—Booker Prize-winning author of The English PatientWarlightAnil’s Ghost, and other acclaimed works of fiction and memoir—as he reads from and discusses his new collection of poetry, A Year of Last Things, in conversation with Knopf editor-in-chief Jordan Pavlin.

“In A Year of Last Things, Ondaatje 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,” writes Terrance Hayes. “The poems become intimate, unresolved stories, loyal to feeling and presence, the lyricism of dreams applied to narratives of lives and landscapes.”

This event is presented by the Authors Guild Foundation with support from the Academy of American Poets.

PLEASE NOTE: All books will be pre-signed by Michael Ondaatje and available for sale after the event. There will be no signing line.

RSVPs are encouraged but not required. Seating is limited and will be first come, first served. There will be lots of standing room. Doors open at 5:30 pm.

Can’t attend? Order your signed copy here (please specify that you would like it signed in the comments box at checkout).

A Year of Last Things book cover

From one of the most influential writers of his generation, a gorgeously surprising poetry collection about memory, history, and the act of looking back

Following several of his internationally acclaimed novels, A Year of Last Things is Michael Ondaatje’s long-awaited return to poetry. In pieces that are sometimes witty, sometimes moving, and always wise, we journey back through time by way of alchemical leaps, unearthing writings by revered masters, moments of shared tenderness, and the abandoned landscapes we hold on to to rediscover the influence of every border crossed.

Moving from a Sri Lankan boarding school to Molière’s chair during his last stage performance, to Bulgarian churches and their icons, to the California coast and his beloved Canadian rivers, Michael Ondaatje casts a brilliant eye that merges memory with the present, in the way memory as the distant shores of art and lost friends continue to influence everything that surrounds him.

From his poem “His chair, a narrow bed, a motel room, the fox”:
At the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles Sam Cooke was shot dead.
‘See that shadow on the wall . . .’ All those motels and hotels
in literature and song, where X wrote this,
where Y got drunk, where Z overdosed.
The one Hank Williams was driven past, dead already in his car.
The Slavianski Bazaar Hotel in “The Lady with a Dog,”
where Dmitri imagines their dark but hopeful future.
The Hôtel de ville de Courtrai, where Verlaine shot Rimbaud.
The Casa Verdi in Milan, where retired opera singers were welcomed
along with various heteronyms of Fernando Pessoa in their afterlife.

Portrait of Michael Ondaatje wearing a black button down shirt and leaning on a metal railing

MICHAEL ONDAATJE is the author of seven novels, a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. His novel The English Patient won the Booker Prize in 1992 and became a major motion picture that won nine Academy Awards, including Best Film; Anil’s Ghost won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the Prix Médicis. Born in Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje now lives in Toronto.