Michael Ondaatje’s continued engagement with historical representation is evident in this novel in the character of the famous jazz trumpeter Buddy Bolden, the New Orleans milieu he inhabited, and his subsequent end in the “bug house” (105). The novel, published in 1976, won the Books in Canada First Novel award for that year, and gives an account of Bolden’s life in the early years of the twentieth century immediately before and after his fall into madness, also taking in other historical figures, such as the photographer Bellocq.
Bolden was an early jazzman known for his innovation, showmanship, sheer volume and “madness”, who nonetheless went largely “unrecorded”. Ondaatje’s work poses questions about how …
Bedggood, Daniel Findlay. "Coming through Slaughter". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 November 2010
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