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The Cat's Table

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The Cat's Table

Michael Ondaatje

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From the acclaimed author of The English Patient comes a stunningly beautiful novel about a boy’s life-changing journey from Ceylon to England in the 1950s.

What had there been before such a ship in my life? A dugout canoe on a river journey? A launch in Trincomalee harbour? There were always fishing boats on our horizon. But I could never imagine the grandeur of this castle that was to cross the sea.


In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy boards a huge liner in Colombo bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the lowly ‘cat’s table’ , as far from the Captain’s table as can be, with a ragtag group of adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship crosses the Indian Ocean the boys tumble from one adventure to another, and at night they spy on a shackled prisoner, his crime and fate a mystery that will haunt them forever…

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