> Skip to content

A mesmerising new novel from the internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of The English Patient.

In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and grow both more convinced and less concerned as they get to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.

Reviews

[Warlight is] so cunningly assembled… leaner than The English Patient and its focus is tighter, a searchlight’s focus… all is illuminated, at first dimly then starkly, but always brilliantly.

Anna Mundow, Washington Post

Skilfully navigating espionage, betrayal and deception, Warlight shows how the scars of undercover battles persist into peacetime… Ondaatje’s portrait of an oddball clan of spies, a “family of disguises”, takes him deep into John le Carré territory… a lyrical but sinister mosaic of a hidden world.

Boyd Tonkin, Economist 1843

The English Patient author Michael Ondaatje weaves another tale of love, loss and memory against a backdrop of World War II. Warlight revolves around the shadowy nature of memory... The mysteries come together through a complex, non-linear narrative that revisits and revises each development with careful scrutiny.

Lucy Brooks, Culture Whisper

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9781787330726

    May 14, 2018

    Jonathan Cape

    RRP $29.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Hardback

    9781787330719

    May 15, 2018

    Jonathan Cape

    RRP $39.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781473555099

    May 10, 2018

    Vintage Digital

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

Extract

Part One

A Table Full of Strangers

In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals. We were living on a street in London called Ruvigny Gardens, and one morning either our mother or our father suggested that after breakfast the family have a talk, and they told us that they would be leaving us and going to Singapore for a year. Not too long, they said, but it would not be a brief trip either. We would of course be well cared for in their absence. I remember our father was sitting on one of those uncomfortable iron garden chairs as he broke the news, while our mother, in a summer dress just behind his shoulder, watched how we responded. After a while she took my sister Rachel’s hand and held it against her waist, as if she could give it warmth.

Continue Reading

Also by Michael Ondaatje

The English Patient
Handwriting
Anil's Ghost
The Cat's Table

Recommendations

Voyager
The Handmaid's Tale
To Kill A Mockingbird
A Gentleman in Moscow
Echo Burning
Atonement
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
The Heart's Invisible Furies
The Girl on the Train
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Memoirs Of A Geisha
Swing Time
The Bear and The Nightingale
Life After Life
Breath
Ready Player One
Sanctuary
The Juliet Code
The Tea Gardens