Michael Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka on 12 September 1943. He moved to England in 1954, and in 1962 moved to Canada where he has lived ever since. He was educated at the University of Toronto and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and began teaching at York University in Toronto in 1971. He published a volume of memoir, entitled Running in the Family, in 1983. His collections of poetry include The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left Handed Poems (1981), which won the Canadian Governor General’s Award in 1971;The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems (1989); and Handwriting: Poems(1998).
His first novel, Coming Through Slaughter (1976), is a fictional portrait of jazz musician Buddy Bolden. The English Patient (1992), set in Italy at the end of the Second World War, was joint winner of the Booker Prize for Fiction and was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1996. Anil’s Ghost (2000), set in Sri Lanka, tells the story of a young female anthropologist investigating war crimes for an international human rights group .
Michael Ondaatje lives in Toronto with his wife, Linda Spalding, with whom he edits the literary journal Brick. His latest novel is Divisadero (2007).