Yann Martel: A Book Signing

Book Smart Tulsa brought another great author to town- Yann Martel, author of the beloved Life of Pi and his most recent Beatrice and Virgil. Now, don't be mad at me- I forgot my camera. But this is pretty much what it looked like:

This book signing had a very different feel than that with Elizabeth Gilbert- largely due to the difference in genres I suppose. Martel, unlike Gilbert, did not read an excerpt from his latest book but rather talked on the intentions he had for Life of Pi and his inspiration for writing Beatrice and Virgil.

It was interesting to hear exactly what the Martel's intentions were with Life of Pi. Though the book is still up to interpretation by its readers, the book signing brought a rare chance to hear from the author what he was really thinking when he wrote it. Being a very black and white person, I much appreciated this!

What most interested me was Martel speaking about Beatrice and Virgil. Arriving at the book signing, I had no idea what his latest book was about but I knew there was a donkey and a monkey on the cover. Once again, Martel uses animals as protagonists to tell his story- a fact I very much like. What will catch you off guard is that the story is an animal allegory for the Holocaust.

I know- intriguing, right?

Martel describes the fascination for the Holocaust he has had since a child in school. He understood World War II and the concepts behind war, but that a country would extinguish millions of its own citizens was puzzling to him. Having no family ties to Europe or Judaism, Martel did not feel it appropriate for him to write a fictional book on the Holocaust using factual people and events. Instead, the author uses an animal allegory to, as he puts it, provide an undercurrent of truth about the Holocaust. It sounds incredible and I can't wait to read it!

Martel describes himself being an intricate planner when it comes to his writing style. Before he sits down to write the first paragraph, he knows how his book is going to end. An audience member asked if he ever changes the path of the story based off where his character is leading him. The author replied no- he tells the characters what to do.

Another project, of sorts, that Martel has is What is Stephen Harper Reading?. For as long as Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada, Yann Martel will send a new book to him every two weeks with a letter detailing why it was chosen. The website features the book choices and letters sent as well as replies received. So far, Martel has sent 100 books and received seven replies, none from the Prime Minister himself. And no, I don't think he sends them because he's a big fan. The website is quite funny and provides a great reading list!

Keep a look out- Life of Pi is currently being made into a major motion picture and will be released December 2012! Can't wait!


Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.

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