Anil’s Ghost

Anil’s Ghost Author : Michael Ondaatje
Country : Sri Lanka

Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost (2000) can be read as an atypical postcolonial detective novel, as it deals with the UN investigation of crimes against humanity committed during the Sri Lankan civil war of the 1980s and early 1990s.

In claiming that crime can and must be solved by the strict application of reason according to a common Enlightenment notion of truth and justice, crime fiction as a genre contributes to maintaining a European epistemology of linear human progress, yet postcolonial crime fiction re-interprets this conservative model by defying single, essentialising readings of truth. Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost (2000) can be read as an atypical postcolonial detective novel, as it deals with the UN investigation of crimes against humanity committed during the Sri Lankan civil war of the 1980s and early 1990s and therefore establishes an apt scenario to question the universality of Western values. By focalising the story through the eyes of Anil Tissera, a young woman born in Sri Lanka but trained in England and America as a forensic anthropologist, who is sent out by a humanitarian organisation to investigate the mass murder campaigns afflicting the island, the novel takes issue with race, gender and class issues. Ondaatje’s novel complicates monolithic readings of truth and justice precisely by putting the limitations and shortcomings of strict forensic logic at the centre of attention, and ultimately deconstructs the discourses that uphold national, communal and individual identity in favour of cultural diversity.

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