The English Patient

Ondaatje, Michael

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction
Secondary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn
  • Date of entry: Dec-15-1995


In the waning days of World War II, Hana, a Canadian nurse, refuses to leave the temporary hospital in a Tuscan villa where she cares for her mysterious English patient, a soldier burned and bandaged beyond recognition. The patient is haunted by the memory of a love affair in North Africa. Hana is joined by Kip, a Sikh bomb-disposal expert, who becomes her lover, and by Caravaggio, a friend of her father and sometime-criminal-turned spy. The three establish a loose pattern of precarious existence in a ravaged world and form a bond of love around the dying man whose identity they try to uncover.


A shadowy mood dominates this widely acclaimed novel that contrasts love and loyalty with the ugliness of fear and war. In the villa, time is suspended, but the characters move back and forth in their private memories, which are only guessed at by the others.


For this novel the author was awarded the Governor General's Award and the Booker Prize.


McClelland & Stewart

Place Published




Secondary Source