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When you are starting out, each great writer gives you specific forms of permission. Michael Ondaatje's work taught me how to be at home in fragments, and how to think about a big story in carefully curated vignettes. All his books were odd, all of them 'unfinished' the way Chopin's 'Etudes' are unfinished: no wasted gestures, no unnecessary notes.

Teju Cole

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