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Yann Martel

Born June 25, 1963 (1963-06-25) (age 46)
Salamanca, Spain
Occupation Novelist
Nationality Canadian
Period 1993-present
Notable work(s) Life of Pi

Yann Martel (born June 25, 1963) is a Spanish-born Canadian author best known for the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi.


Early life

Martel was born in Salamanca, Spain. As an adolescent he attended high school at Trinity College School, a boarding school in Port Hope, Ontario. He grew up in Costa Rica, France, Mexico, and Canada. As an adult, Martel has spent time in Iran, Turkey and India. After studying philosophy at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Martel spent 13 months in India visiting temples, churches, mosques and zoos, and then two years reading religious texts and castaway stories.[3] His first published fictional work, Seven Stories, appeared in 1993.


In 2001, he published Life of Pi, which was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2002. Life of Pi was later chosen for the 2003 edition of CBC Radio's Canada Reads competition, where it was championed by author Nancy Lee. In addition, its French translation, Histoire de Pi, was included in the French version of the competition, Le combat des livres, in 2004, championed by singer Louise Forestier.

Martel spent a year in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from September 2003 as the public library's writer-in-residence. He collaborated with Omar Daniel, composer-in-residence at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, on a piece for piano, string quartet and bass. The composition, You Are Where You Are, is based on text written by Martel, which includes parts of cellphone conversations taken from moments in an ordinary day.

In November 2005, the University of Saskatchewan announced that Martel would be scholar-in-residence.[4] He continues to have an office at the University.

His upcoming novel, Beatrice and Virgil, will deal with the Holocaust: it will take place between two talking animals (a monkey and a donkey) on a man's dress shirt. It will be published simultaneously with an essay on the same subject, also under the same name. Martel cited them as simply two approaches to the same subject. He claims it will be a philosophical work, essentially just "one long conversation". He is also working on a project entitled What is Stephen Harper Reading, where he is sending the Prime Minister of Canada one book every two weeks that portrays "stillness" with an accompanying explanatory note. He is posting his letters, book selection and any responses to the website devoted to the project.[5] A book-length account of the project was published in the fall of 2009.



Martel has stated publicly in a number of interviews that Dante's Divine Comedy is the single most impressive book [he has] ever read.[6] Martel's love for reading extends as far back as his childhood. In talking about his most memorable childhood book, he recalls Le Petit Chose by Alphonse Daudet, saying that he read it when he was ten years old, and that it was the first time he found a book so heartbreaking that it moved him to tears.[7]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^ Martel, Yann. "How I Wrote Life of Pi". Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  4. ^ U Sask Department of English homepage, retrieved 16 April 2007,
  5. ^ What is Stephen Harper Reading, retrieved 16 April 2007,
  6. ^
  7. ^ ABE Books: Exclusive Interview with Yann Martel. "I remember the first time I cried reading a book. It was a novel by Alphone Daudet, an autobiography called Le Petit Chose or "The Little Thing" which was a nickname the author received as a child. It was a heartbreaking story and I remember hiding in the bathroom to sob. It took me by surprise that I could be moved so much by a book. I was ten years old."

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Yann Martel (born June 25, 1963) is a Canadian author best known for the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi.

Life of Pi (2001)

  • My suffering left me sad and gloomy.
    • pg. 3
  • Evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.
  • I was weeping because Richard Parker left me so unceremoniously. What a terrible thing it is to botch the farewell. I am a person who believes in form, in the harmony of order. Where we can, we must give things meaningful shape.
    • pg. 285
  • A tie is a noose, and inverted though it is, it will hang a man nonetheless if he’s not careful.
    • pg. 6
  • Scientists are a friendly, atheistic, hard-working, beer-drinking lot whose minds are preoccupied with sex, chess and baseball when they are not preoccupied with science.
    • pg. 5
  • The lower you are, the higher your mind will want to soar.
    • pg. 358
  • To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
    • pg. 28
  • A person can get used to anything, even to killing.
    • p. 234
  • "Bapu Gandhi said, 'All religions are true.' I just want to love God," I blurted out, and looked down, red in the face.
    • p. 69
  • Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was a hell beyond expression. I thank God it always passed. A school of fish appeared around the net or a knot cried out to be reknotted. Or I thought of my family of how they were spared this terrible agony. The blackness would stir and eventually go away, and God would remain, a shining point of light in my heart. I would go on loving.
    • p. 209
  • I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life.
    • p. 161
  • I did not count the days or the weeks or the months. Time is an illusion that only makes us pant. I survived because I forgot even the very notion of time.
    • p. 192
  • I cannot think of a better way to spread the faith. No thundering from a pulpit, no condemnation from bad churches, no peer pressure, just a book of scripture quietly waiting to say hello, as gentle and powerful as a little girl's kiss on your cheek.
    • p. 208
  • There were many seas. The sea roared like a tiger. The sea whispered in your ear like a friend telling you secrets. The sea clinked like small change in a pocket. The sea thundered like avalanches. The sea hissed like sandpaper working on wood. The sea sounded like someone vomiting. The sea was dead silent.
    • p. 215
  • Thank you. And so it goes with God.
  • If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.
  • Don't you bully me with your politeness! Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?
    • p. 330
  • Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat-wearing Muslims.
  • If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for? Isn't love hard to believe?
    • pg. 297
  • It was Richard Parker who calmed me down. It is the irony of this story that the one who scared me witless to start with was the very same who brought me peace, purpose, I dare say even wholeness.
    • pg. 162
  • Then Richard Parker, companion of my torment, awful, fierce thing that kept me alive, moved forward and disappeared forever from my life.
    • pg. 285
  • I know what you want. You want a story that won't surprise you. That will confirm what you already know. That won't make you see higher or further or differently. You want a flat story. An immobile story. You want dry, yeastless factuality. (p. 381)
  • Only death consistently excites your emotions, whether contemplating it when life is safe and stale, or fleeing it when life is threatened and precious
  • If you take two steps toward God, God runs toward you
  • The reason death sticks so closely to life isn't biological necessity — it's envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.
    • pg. 6
  • My greatest wish - other than salvation - was to have a book.
    • pg. 207
  • Animals in the wild lead lives of compulsion and necessity within an unforgiving social hierarchy in an environment where the supply of fear is high and the supply of food is low and where territory must constantly be defended and parasites forever endured.

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