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Christopher Ondaatji
The Man-Eater of Punanai

The Man-Eater of Punanai
The Man-Eater of Punanai
is a fascinating story of a past rediscovered through a remarkable journey to one of the most exotic countries of the world – Sri Lanka . Full of drama and history, it not only relives the incredible story of a man-eating leopard that terrorized the tiny village of Punanai in the early part of the century, but also allows the author to come to terms with the ghost of his charismatic but tyrannical father.

More than a simple tale of adventure, the story is the revelation of a colourful but troubled past – a charmed life that abruptly ended when the author was sent to school in England , away from the security of childhood and the family he loved so much. Through an evocative narrative we come to understand the forces that shaped this successful, mercurial man and that eventually impelled him to give up much of his power in the business world in exchange for a more satisfying quest.

In his photographs and his highly personal narrative, Christopher Ondaatje has captured all of the exotic drama of Sri Lanka : the jungles of Yala, the family tea estate, the ancient ruined cities, and, eventually, the strife-torn village of Punanai – now the scene of a different terror. The journey’s drama is heightened by accounts of intriguing meetings with people who were very much part of the family past – privileged members of a declining colonial society. There were risks, too, but through it all the bold quest for truth drove the author relentlessly to a final and inevitable confrontation.

All rights reserved by The Ondaatje Foundation © 2005

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