Indie Next ListOctober 2011
In a story of intricate delicacy and beauty, Ondaatje not only tells the wondrous story of three boys at sea -- a journey that takes them each from one world to another and into the realm of adult ways and mysteries -- but also one that has the reader in thrall to what it is to look back and remember. The Cat's Table is a luscious, bittersweet rumination on imagination, memory, and place, and what we find by reclaiming what we've lost. -- Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
In the early 1950s in Ceylon an eleven-year-old boy is put alone aboard a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the insignificant "cat's table"--as far from the Captain's table as can be--with two other lone boys and a small group of strange fellow passengers: one appears to be a shadowy figure from the British Secret Service; another a mysterious thief, another seems all too familiar with the dangerous ways of women and crime. On the long sea voyage across the Indian Ocean and through the Suez Canal, the three boys rush from one wild adventure and startling discovery to another: experiencing the first stirrings of desire, spying at night on a notorious shackled prisoner, moving easily between the decks and holds of the ship. As the secretive adult world is slowly revealed, they begin to realize that a drama is unfolding on board, and the prisoner's crime and fate will be a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them and link them forever.