Quillblog is a bit late with this one, but would be remiss not to acknowledge the unveiling last Thursday of a plaque commemorating Michael Ondaatje’s iconic Toronto novel In the Skin of a Lion. The plaque sits at the east end of the Bloor Street Viaduct, the construction of which is a central feature of Ondaatje’s 1987 novel. The National Post reports that last Thursday,
Mr. Ondaatje returned to the scene of his masterpiece, in a little parkette on the east end of the bridge, to unveil the first plaque by Project Bookmark Canada. The brainchild of Toronto-area writer Miranda Hill, this project aims to post pieces of prose next to geographic features all over Canada, thus inspiring us to read our stories about our landscape.
The Ondaatje plaque reprints one of the most famous scenes from his novel, in which a construction worker hanging from the underside of the viaduct catches a nun who falls over the side. The incident in the novel is based on an actual event.
Quillblog applauds the effort to memorialize Toronto’s literary history – future installments are planned around Anne Michaels’ Fugitive Pieces and Dennis Lee’s “The Cat and the Wizard,” pending private donations to fund them – but admits to being a bit flabbergasted by Ondaatje’s description in the Post piece of In the Skin of a Lion as a “thriller.”