The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje
Eleven year old Michael boards a ship to sail away from the only home he has known, Sri Lanka, to go to England to live with his single mother, a woman he hasn’t seen in four years. On the ship he is seated at the Cat’s Table – the least desirable table in the dining area because it is the furthest from the Captain’s Table. At his table sits a ragtag bunch including the two other unsupervised boys on the ship, a botanist and a jazz pianist with an interesting past. While the ship makes the three week journey Michael gets involved in all sorts of adventures and makes friendships and learns lessons that shape his life.
While I enjoyed this book it didn’t stay with me very well. I agreed with the author’s observation that the people unworthy of sitting at the Captain’s Table are much more interesting than those that sit there because they are the ones with the best stories. There are a slew of characters and due to the book’s slim size you meet them briefly, then again many pages later and it’s difficult to remember who is who. If you have some hours to dedicate this would be a much better read; picking it up and reading only a few pages at a time is not the best way to keep the characters clear.