Lush Beauty Hides Darkness in a Haunting Tale
- Book: Anil’s Ghost
- Location: Sri Lanka
- Author: Michael Ondaatje
Michael Ondaatje is best known for his prize-winning novel, The English Patient, but his earlier work, Anil’s Ghost, is hands down a favorite for me.
I spent more than two years working as a journalist in Sri Lanka, where this powerful and suspenseful novel is set, and I’ve read many novels that take place in the lush island nation. Few come close to conveying the beauty, violence, and tragedy of a country rich in culture and natural resources but wracked by a decades-long civil war.
The suspense and moody atmosphere builds steadily as young forensic anthropologist, Anil Tissera, arrives back in her homeland after years living in the US. She has been dispatched by an international human right NGO to examine a series of murders and disappearances. The government agrees to the investigation, but only if she’s accompanied by a local official. Whether he is her guide or a minder sent to foil her efforts to uncover the truth remains unclear until the final chapter.
I have lent this book out many times, and on several occasions it failed to return – testament to a powerful story that will stay in your thoughts long after the last page.