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Synopsis

In the early 1950s, an 11-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the “cat’s table”—as far from the Captain’s Table as can be—with a ragtag group of “insignificant” adults and two other boys. As the narrative moves between the decks and holds of the ship and in and out of the boy’s adult years, it tells a spellbinding story—by turns poignant and electrifying—about the magical, often forbidden discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage. Michael Ondaatje is a master storyteller and uses symbols and imagery in a most unusual way. The Bookclub-in-a-Box guide for Michael Ondaatje’s book will spark discussion around the following topics: Is this novel a memoir or a work of fiction? Are youthful experiences simply adventures? How do they impact the adults we become? Immigration involves changing countries, new languages, different cultural traditions, and learning how to interact with a diversity of new people. Do Children adapt more easily than adults? Every Bookclub-in-a-Box discussion guide includes complete coverage of the themes and symbols, writing style and interesting background information on the novel and the author.

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