Colonialists’ Cat’s Paw, the Extension of the Colonial Mission through Expatriate Writing: A Critical Analysis of Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost

  • Janitha Nishan Ekanayake University of Peradeniya


Even through decades have been passed since the collapse of the British empire, which brutally suppressed the South Asian countries, the inferior mindset complexity of the once colonised nations tends to prevail, irrespective of their literacy of postcolonial theories. As suggested by many Marxist and Postcolonial theorists, such inferior attitudes can be caused by ideological discourse. The study, therefore, attempts to understand and exemplify how the colonial ideology is strategically re-disseminated by the expatriate writers, with particular focus on Michael Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost. With the use of postcolonial theories of Frantz Fanon and Edward Saïd and of the critical analyses on expatriate writing by Sri Lankan scholars, the study argues that Ondaatje has extended the colonial mission by projecting a corrupted and a devastated image of Sri Lanka. Being a skillful writer, however, Ondaatje manages to evade obvious criticism as he has consciously selected a time period and a set of characters, through which he can foreground the negative image of Sri Lanka in a neutral manner.

Keywords: Anil's Ghost, expatriate literature, Michael Ondaatje, Sri Lankan literature


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Janitha Nishan Ekanayake, University of Peradeniya

Having completed the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in English from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Janitha Nishan Ekanayake pursued his postgraduate studies at the University of Kelaniya. Currently he is a graduate student in English at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. He is a visiting academic at the University of Colombo, University of Vocational Technology and National Institute of Education. He had taught the French language at Alliance Française de Kandy and was a member of the French Teachers’ Association of Sri Lanka.


1. Fanon, Frantz. “National Culture.” The Post-Colonial Studies Reader, Bill Aschcroft et al. Routledge, 2004, pp. 153 – 157.
2. Ivan, Victor. Arbudhaye Andharaya. Ravaya Prakashana, 2010.
3. Jayasuriya, Wilfrid. Sri Lanka’s Modern English Literature: A Case Study in Literary Theory. Navrang Booksellers and Publishers, 1994.
4. Kandiah, Thiru. “Towards a Lankan Canon in English Creative Writing: Subversions of Post-Colonialism and the Resisting Representations of Chitra Fernando’s Fictional Voice.” Phoenix: Sri Lankan Journal of English in the Commonwealth, Edited by Nihal Fernando and Lilamani de Silva, V & VI, 1997, pp. 47–72.
5. Nayar, Pramod K. From Text to Theory: A Handbook of Literary and Cultural Theory. Viva Books, 2017.
6. Ondaatje, Michael. Anil’s Ghost. Vintage Books, 2011.
7. Said, Edward Wadie. Orientalism. Vintage Books, 1979.
8. Wurgaft, Lewis D. The Imperial Imagination: Magic and Myth in Kipling’s India. Wesleyan University Press, 1983.
How to Cite
Ekanayake, J. “Colonialists’ Cat’s Paw, the Extension of the Colonial Mission through Expatriate Writing: A Critical Analysis of Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost”. Contemporary Literary Review India, Vol. 7, no. 3, Aug. 2020, pp. 60-79, doi:10.201411/clri.v7i3.596.
Research Papers