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Warlight
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2018 Longlist [MBP] > Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

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Maxwell (welldonebooks) | 375 comments Mod
This thread is for discussion Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Please be considerate of spoilers when posting your thoughts. Either use the spoiler tag or make it clear at the top of your comment that you will be posting specific details of the story.

Happy reading & discussing!


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer My review (spoiler free) – I found this a quietly impressive book

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer I found a recurring symbolic theme in this book of shifting borders:

the boundary between childhood and adulthood (as in the quote above);

the literally shifting borders that follow in the re-partitioning of conquered territory at the end of a war:

the border between war and peace and how for many participants that border is more blurred and less black and white than the history books of “VE Day” and so on would have us believe;

the border between legality and criminality and the temporary legitimation of the latter in times of war;

and particularly the boundary between day time and night time, between dark and light (which leads to the book’s title).


MandM | 4 comments Actually read this book twice. Amazing sensory overload. I had some trouble the first time going from 1st to 3rd person. The second time through it all came together. I think it’s a book to read slowly and devour.


Maddie (ashelfofonesown) I began reading this one on audiobook and the narrator is formidable; however, I see so many of you talking about clues and details, I'm afraid to miss something. I'm really enjoying it tho!


message 6: by Britta (last edited Jul 25, 2018 12:17AM) (new) - added it

Britta Böhler | 314 comments Mod
I will pass on this one for now. Sadly, Ondaatje and I, we just don't gel.


message 7: by Wen (last edited Jul 25, 2018 06:41PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Wen (wensz) Maddie wrote: "I began reading this one on audiobook and the narrator is formidable; however, I see so many of you talking about clues and details, I'm afraid to miss something. I'm really enjoying it tho!"
Just bought the audiobook. Will be my first read on the list. Heard Ontaadje introduce the book on podcast a while back and was intrigued. Even more so after the catchup read of The English Patient.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... I did read The English Patient, but wasn't impressed. It felt do "artsy" if that even makes sense. I am listening to this one and it is so much better. It is richer and more personal. Less of that strange artistic style that I disliked in the former. I don't read any reviews until I finish a book so I will come back to your reviews tomorrow evening.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... Britta wrote: "I will pass on this one for now. Sadly, Ondaatje and I, we just don't gel."

Britta, I discover you on youtube tonight when I searched Manbooker. I enjoyed your video. Now I see you were a law professor. What type of law did/do you practice? I am a "retired" (disabled) international tax lawyer.


message 10: by Britta (new) - added it

Britta Böhler | 314 comments Mod
Kelly wrote: "Britta wrote: "I will pass on this one for now. Sadly, Ondaatje and I, we just don't gel."

Britta, I discover you on youtube tonight when I searched Manbooker. I enjoyed your video. Now I see you ..."


Ah, lovely, happy to have you on booktube! And: I teach legal ethics.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... Gumble's Yard wrote: "My review (spoiler free) – I found this a quietly impressive book

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."


Your reviews are so organized, thoughtful and smart! You must keep a journal with you as you read. I really loved your comment about all the various themes you saw in this as well. I finished it in the wee hours and liked the book a lot.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer I make occasional notes on my phone and take pictures of pages I want to quote or discuss in in my review.


Meike (meikereads) While I understand why some people perceive this as "quietly impressive" (as Gumble said), I didn't enjoy this book.

Ondaatje meditates on how we construct ourselves through the past - and he does it in elegic prose, highlighting the details that become instructive to understand the bigger picture, and illustrating the human need to somehow make sense of our own personal history. In "Warlight", this personal history is intertwined with world history, and like a historian tries to find the most enlightening ways to understand past events, our protagonist, Nathaniel, is looking for the bits and pieces that make up the most rounded version of his own person.

BUT: This is all so anecdotal, traditional, and polished, that I am constantly longing for something weird to happen, for some wicked twist of his prose, for some sense of urgency to appear - but is all flowing nicely, perfectly tempered, a long narrative stream. Again, this does not mean it's bad: What Ondaatje does, he does masterfully. But it drives me crazy - this is not my kind of writing.

Here's my review.


message 14: by Neil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Neil | 511 comments I keep posting just after Meike and wanting to say similar things!

I can understand why many people like this book. I didn't dislike it, but I could not get excited about it. In my review, I compared it to a recent ferry journey I made in thick fog on a completely calm sea: I knew the captain knew how to get us where we were going, but it was impossible to tell the boat was moving for almost the whole 2 hours of the journey. To me, this book felt too calm and too distant.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer I was reminded of Ishiguro - he also seems to be a writer completely in control of his writing from the opening sentence.


message 16: by Neil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Neil | 511 comments Yes, I agree with that. I was also reminded of Le Carre who writes incredibly elegant prose about spying. But both Ishiguro and Le Carre seem to bring the reader much closer to the story than I felt Ondaatje does. At least, that is how I respond to their writing.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer Your comments on links to other longlisted books (to which I have added a couple more) would make a fascinating thread when you have completed the longlist.


Meike (meikereads) Neil wrote: "I keep posting just after Meike and wanting to say similar things!"

Haha, Neil - and we agree once more! :-)


message 19: by Neil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Neil | 511 comments I think I liked this one a bit more than you did, but we are close!


Meike (meikereads) Similar, not the same: We tend to agree, and still have room for discussion. Neil, we are goooood! :-)


message 21: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 151 comments I found this a very enjoyable read, but perhaps nothing exceptional, if only because of the weight of expectation generated by some of the early reviews.

My review


message 22: by Michael (last edited Aug 15, 2018 08:35PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michael | 11 comments I enjoyed reading Warlight. I didn't get that worked up over the hollow center of a story held at a distance by its narrator. I classify this book as a page-turner with exquisite prose illuminating interesting characters in a fuzzy half remembered dream. I enjoyed Rose's story the most. The hints of things unsaid, and the constant threat she lives her life under, the repression of guilt over the loss of a relationship with her daughter. I happen to love books where very little happens, which some have leveled toward 'Warlight' as a negative. If this is a book wherein nothing happens, like maybe 'Reservoir 13', a whole hell of a lot seems to be happening. I gave the book 4 stars, but it is more like 3.5ish. I enjoyed hanging out in the dreamy world of this novel and was not disappointed that Ondaatje ultimately avoids any great revelation.


message 23: by Wen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Wen (wensz) My first long list read this year and loved it. I enjoy savoring quiet and controlled prose like Ondaatje's. Think this book can make a great movie too.


Keriann (kad123) Just started this and not enjoying at all, I don't think the writing style is for me... Will give it another 50 pages x


Keriann (kad123) Had to give up on this one, his writing style just wasn't for me x


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