As part of the Fairmont icon series, CBC Q host Jian Ghomeshi interviewed bestselling author Yann Martel in front of a live audience in Toronto. From the Qtv channel on YouTube.
With the resounding success of his third book, Life of Pi (2001), Martel became an internationally recognized author. The 2002 recipient of Britain's prestigious Man Booker Prize, this bestselling novel was also nominated for both the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book and the GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD (among others), and was featured on CBC Radio's Canada Reads series in 2003. Life of Pi chronicles the remarkable journey of Pi Patel, an Indian teenager who is stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with an injured zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a large Bengali tiger by the name of Richard Parker. In his creation of such an unlikely tale, Martel encourages his readers to suspend their disbelief in order to better appreciate the mind's uncanny ability to deal with the most extraordinary of circumstances. Like the Japanese officials at the end of the novel, Martel's audience cannot help but prefer Pi's imaginative version of his survival at sea over the more probable alternative. The Life of Pi has been published as an illustrated edition (2007, illustrated by Tomislav Torjanac); adapted as a play (2003); and adapted for film. Some controversy ensued after critics noted resonances between the novel and Brazilian author Moacyr Scliar's work Max and the Cats (1981).
Martel continues to publish works that muse on memory, horror and the consequences of human error and human evil. His collection of stories entitled We Ate the Children Last: Stories was published in 2004. The title story, a cautionary speculative work about experimental medical treatment and human consumption, was adapted into a short film directed by Andrew Cividino (2011). Martel's third novel, Beatrice and Virgil, was published in 2010. Two of the central characters, for whom the book is named, are a stuffed donkey and monkey, evidence of Martel's continued use of animals to explore the human condition. A meditation on truth and imagination, as well as the Holocaust and the way that horrific event has been represented by writers, the novel is complex, using metafictional techniques and bending of the boundaries of non-fiction, fiction, drama and autofiction.
In 2007 Martel began the project "What is Stephen Harper Reading?", a one-sided correspondence with PRIME MINISTER Harper: every 2 weeks Martel sent HARPER a work of literature, accompanied by a letter engaging with the work. The first 55 letters were themselves collected into a book in 2009, What is Stephen Harper Reading? Yann Martel's Recommended Reading for a Prime Minister (and Book Lovers of All Stripes). Martel ended the project in 2011, after sending Harper 100 books.
Following the publication and subsequent notoriety of Life of Pi, Martel accepted a teaching position with the Department of Comparative Literature at the Free University of Berlin (2002-03), and was the Writer in Residence at the Saskatoon Public Library in 2003-04. He lives in Saskatoon.
Author BROOKE PRATT
Links to Other Sites
Yann Martel in Conversation with Tabu
Watch a video featuring award-winning Canadian author Yann Martel and Indian film star Tabu talk about their work, and the process of bringing the written page to life on the silver screen. From YouTube.
10 for the Top 10: Yann Martel answers the Canada Reads Questionnaire
A brief question and answer session with award-winning author Yann Martel. From the CBC website.
Life after Pi
An article about Yann Martel's "Beatrice & Virgil" and other books he has written. From Quill & Quire.
Yann Martel's life after Pi
An article about the many challenges Yann Martel faced while working on his novel "Beatrice & Virgil". From the National Post.
Member Spotlight – Yann Martel
A brief interview with Canadian author Yann Martel from PEN Canada.
Saskatoon celebrates Life of Pi author
A CBC News story about the Oscar wins for the movie adaptation of Yann Martel's book, Life of Pi.
Life of Pi
The IMDb site for Oscar-winning movie Life of Pi. Features film credits, videos, and more.