Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Podcast: Interview with Michael Ondaatje (1982)

Author Michael Ondaatje. (Photo: Linda Spalding)

From 1981 to 1989, I was assistant producer and co-host of the radio show On the Arts, at CJRT-FM (today Jazz 91.1) in Toronto. With the late Tom Fulton, who was the show's prime host and producer, we did a half-hour interview program where we talked to writers and artists from all fields. In 1982, I sat down with Canadian novelist and poet Michael Ondaatje.

At the time of our conversation, Ondaatje's fictionalized memoir Running in the Family had just been published. Born in Sri Lanka in 1943, he emigrated to Montreal at the age of 19. His writing includes over a dozen books of poetry and six novels, including In the Skin of a Lion (1987) and Anil's Ghost (2000). His 1992 novel The English Patient was adapted into an award-winning film in 1996 by Anthony Minghella. (Minghella's acclaimed film, starring Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, and Kristin Scott Thomas, would go on to win numerous Academy Awards – including Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Supporting Actress for Binoche.)

Michael Ondaatje is one of Canada's most celebrated writers, winning the Giller Prize, the Booker Prize, and the Governor General's Award on five occasions. In 1988, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Michael Ondaatje's most recent novel is The Cat's Table, published in 2011.

– Kevin Courrier.

Here is the full interview with Michael Ondaatje as it aired on CJRT-FM in 1982.

Kevin Courrier is a freelance writer/broadcaster, film critic and author (Dangerous Kitchen: The Subversive World of Zappa, Randy Newman's American Dreams33 1/3 Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, Artificial Paradise: The Dark Side of The Beatles Utopian Dream). Courrier teaches part-time film courses to seniors through the LIFE Institute at Ryerson University in Toronto and other venues. His forthcoming book is Talking Out of Turn: A Collection of Reviews, Interviews and Remembrances currently being assembled on Blogger. 

Tom Fulton was the host and producer of On the Arts for CJRT-FM in Toronto for 23 years, beginning in 1975.

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