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The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
The Cat's Table is set in 1954, and an eleven-year-old boy, Michael, begins a trip by ocean liner from Ceylon to England. He's traveling without parents, and is seated at the least desirable table in the dining room: the cat's table. At the table are two other unaccompanied boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. The three boys explore the ship, spy on the other passengers, and sneak out every night to watch a criminal exercise. They don't know what crime he's committed, but he's only unshackled at night. They peer into a new world on board, and what they see and experience affects the rest of their lives. Michael Ondaatje's novel has received positive reviews with The Telegraph saying, "It is richly enjoyable, often very funny, and gleams like a really smart liner on a sunny day."