Steve Hamilton won this year’s Edgar Award for this book. It’s a win which I wholeheartedly concur with. A brilliant book. Mike is 18. When he was 8 something terrible happened to his parents which traumatised him so much he stopped speaking. He discovered while living with his uncle that he had an ability with locks. He could open any lock, whether a safe or a padlock. The wrong people discovered his ability and have forced him into doing things he really didn’t want to do. He’s now in jail and is writing down what happened to him, so we learn his story bit by bit, like peeling an onion. It’s a cracker of a read, with teenage romance and a hero determined to uncover his past, a damaged soul you cheer for .
Yes, there’s a new Michael Ondaatje coming September. It’s called The Cat’s Table, it’s fiction, and it is the story of a 10 year old boy Michael leaving Ceylon in the 1950s on the Oronsay, going to London to meet up with his mother who left him a couple of years previously. It’s the story of the voyage, the people he met on the ship and the adventures he had. It’s a wonderful book and I thought I’d quote a few lines from it. Michael is talking about a Celonese man going to England to teach there, he wouldn’t be a wealthy man ‘But he had a serenity that came with the choice of the life he wanted to live. And this serenity and certainty I have seen only among those who have the armour of books close by.’ This language is why I love reading Michael Ondaatje.