The English Patient

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The English Patient
305 pages; Vintage Books

Because we could see this book in our minds—without the movie ever having been made.

Michael Ondaatje's haunting novel centers on four characters in an abandoned Italian village as WWll is ending. One of them, the "English patient," is burned beyond recognition and no one knows his identity. The other three—his Canadian nurse, Hana Lewis; a thief named David Caravaggio, whose thumbs were cut off by the Germans; and, a demolitions expert named Kip Singh who's there to defuse bombs—try to unravel the mystery of the dying man. Slowly, through the morphine, a tragic tale of doomed love emerges—but no plot synopsis could do justice to the sheer, visual poetry of Ondaatje's writing.
— Dawn Raffel