Born in Sri Lanka in 1943, Michael Ondaatje immigrated with his mother, brother and sister to England in 1952. He followed his brother to Canada in 1962, and attended Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto in 1965, and his Master of Arts from Queen's University in 1967. He has taught at a variety of institutions, including the University of Western Ontario, York University, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Brown University and the University of Toronto.Â
Michael Ondaatje is probably best known for his work The English Patient (1992) which was adapted to an Academy Award winning movie. He started with poetry in 1967 publishing Dainty Monsters. His serial poem the man with seven toesÂ (1969) was inspired by paintings by an Australian artist, and a true story of a woman living among the Aborigines after a shipwreck.Â Â Ondaatje calls In the Skin of a Lion (1987) his first novel, and it takes place in Toronto within the Macedonian immigrant community.
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Ondaatje has also done short movies, plays and photography. He is also an editor, and has read, influenced and shaped numerous Canadian authors. He has won the Governor-General's Award four times, as well as the Booker Prize, the Giller Prize and the Prix Medicis. He was named to the Order of Canada in 1988.