Addicted to novelty since 2001

A map of The Cat’s Table

I recently finished reading Michael Ondaatje’s excellent The Cat’s Table. It tells the story of a boy’s journey (ostensibly, but not actually, Ondaatje himself–he’s a notorious liar in such things) by ocean liner from Colombo, Ceylon (known today as Sri Lanka) to London, England. I quite enjoyed the novel–much more than Anil’s Ghost and Divisadero, and would recommend it.

This was the first ebook I’d ever read, as it happens. I read it on the iPad, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to include an annotated map with the text. There are some standard ‘extras’ that you get with the Kindle app–lists of characters and memorable quotes, example. The ebook actually included a section entitled “Setting & Places”, but it seems like it’s generated algorithmically, not curated by an actual human. How do I know this? The terms “Cat” and “Hyderabad Mind” (the latter is the name of a circus performer in the book) are listed as settings or places. The Kindle app notes that this content comes courtesy of Shelfari.

I was curious about the route the Oronsay, Ondaatje’s ocean liner, took. So, I plotted the locations where the boat put into port, and made a quick custom Google map:

View The Route of the Oronsay in Michael Ondaatje’s “The Cat’s Table” in a larger map