Set in 1945, The English Patient explores the lives of four very disparate war torn people, a young woman and three men, who take refuge in a damaged villa north of Florence as the war retreats around them. In an upstairs room lies the badly burned English patient, alive but unable to move. His extraordinary adventures and turbulent love affair in the North African desert before the war provide the focus around which the vivid tales of his companions revolve. His very presence will forever change the destiny of those around him.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje was selected by novelist Kamila Shamsie for the 1990s, who called it, ‘that rare novel which gets under your skin and insists you return to it time and again, always yielding a new surprise or delight.’
The Oscar-winning film adaptation of the novel will be screened at 7.30pm on 7 July at the Man Booker 50 Festival, where Michael Ondaatje will also appear in a one-to-one discussion at 2.30pm on 8 July with Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro.