Paperbacks: Divisadero, by Michael Ondaatje

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The Independent Culture

Romantically-inclined fans of Ondaatje's 1992 Booker prize-winning novel The English Patient will find much to enjoy in his latest work – a novel that hums with longing and cicada-chirruping scenery.

Made up of several interlinking stories, it opens in northern California with an Annie Proulx-style tale of thwarted passion between 16-year-old Anna and a troubled farm hand, Coop, and an idyll smashed by violence. In later chapters, the self-sufficient Anna, now an academic, travels to south-west France to research an obscure Gascon writer – whose creative life has parallels with her own. This is a novel that requires the reader to surrender to the seductions of language over character and plot.