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MICHAEL ONDAATJE, AUTHOR OF "THE ENGLISH PATIENT," TO SPEAK AT AQUINAS COLLEGE - Feb 2, 2004

February 2, 2004 - Grand Rapids, Michigan (February 2, 2004) - Award-winning writer Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient, will appear at Aquinas College as part of its Contemporary Writers Series on Tuesday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the College's new Performing Arts Center, 1703 Robinson Road, S.E.

Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), but moved to London as a boy where he attended Dulwich College. He then immigrated to Canada, first to Montreal and then to Toronto, where, in the 1960's, he began attracting attention as one of Canada's up and coming young poets. Critics noted his lush imagery and control of the language. In addition to poetry, Ondaatje began writing non-fiction essays and fiction, publishing his first novel, "Coming Through Slaughter," in 1977. His work burst into international attention with the publication of "The English Patient" in 1992 and its film adaptation in 1996.

Critics praise Ondaatje for his use of highly poetic language even in his prose, and for his ability to portray his fictional characters' internal struggles even as they contend with historical forces in the outer world. Setting his stories in diverse countries and cultures, he has truly become a world writer in such diverse genres as poetry, fiction, screenplays, dramas and criticism. For many years, he has been a professor in the English Department at Glendon College of York University in Toronto.

Ondaatje's visit is made possible by a special gift from Ms. Deborah Meijer through the Rimbaud Fund of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. It is the third reading in this year's Aquinas College Contemporary Writers Series, now in its seventh season. The Aquinas College Contemporary Writers Series receives ongoing funding from Tony Foster, M.D., and his wife, Grand Rapids' poet laureate Linda Nemec Foster and the Friends of the Contemporary Writers Series.

The reading will take place in the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center, at 1703 Robinson Road, S.E. between Plymouth and Rosewood. The reading is free, however tickets are required due to limited seating. Tickets may be reserved after April 5 by calling the Circle Theater Box Office at 616-456-6656 (Limit four tickets per caller). Tickets must be picked up at the Performing Arts Center box office prior to the reading.