The English Patient Author Ondaatje Visits Mason for Text and Community Project

Posted: March 31, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Collecting an unlikely group of characters in a bombed-out villa in Italy at the close of World War II, the best-selling novel and winner of the 1992 Booker Prize, The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje, has been chosen for this year’s Text and Community project. Ondaatje, who will visit George Mason on April 12, has been recognized with many of the literary world’s highest honors, including the Governor-General’s Award and the Prix Medicis.

Sponsored by the Department of English, the Text and Community Program is a semester-long project that seeks to foster exchanges across disciplines and interpretations of a text from multiple perspectives.

The first event will take place today at 5:55 p.m. in Innovation Hall, Room 103. Eric Pankey, professor of English, and Jennifer Atkinson, assistant professor of English, will host a discussion of Ondaatje’s poetry.

Ondaatje will read on April 12 at 8 p.m. in Harris Theatre. Born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1943, Ondaatje lives in Toronto with his wife, Linda Spalding, with whom he edits the literary magazine Brick. He is the author of several collections of poetry and four novels as well as a memoir of his childhood, Running in the Family. His writing often explores the frangible boundaries between documentary and literary modes of representation, and the connections among history, memory, and identity.

Other Text and Community events include:

  • April 8: Screening of the movie The English Patient, with an introduction by Peter Brunette, Film and Media Studies director, at 6 and 9 p.m. in the Johnson Center Cinema
  • April 14: An interdisciplinary panel discussion featuring professors Amal Amireh, English; Marian Deshmukh, History and Art History; Sheila ffolliott, History and Art History; and Sheryl Beach, Geography and School of Computational Sciences, at 5:55 p.m. in Innovation Hall, Room 103
  • April 28: Student poster displays in the SUB II Ballroom


A critical essay contest on any topic related to the novel will also be held for undergraduate students. The first place prize is $100; the deadline is April 23.

For more information, visit the Text and Community web site.

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