Born in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) of Dutch/Indian ancestry, in 1954 he moved to England with his mother. After relocating to Canada in 1962, he became a Canadian citizen. Ondaatje received his BA from the University of Toronto and his MA from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. His style of fiction introduced in In the Skin of the Lion and mastered in the English Patient is non-linear. He creates a narrative by exploring many interconnected snapshots in great detail.
Although he is best known as a novelist, Ondaatje's work also encompasses memoir, poetry, and film. Besides his memoir of his childhood, Running in the Family, and his Governor General's Award winning book of poetry, There's a Trick With a Knife he is known for four works of fiction: