- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Canada (Feb. 1 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307398781
- ISBN-13: 978-0307398789
- Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.6 x 20.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 227 g
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #282,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Beatrice & Virgil Paperback – Deckle Edge, Feb 1 2011
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#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A Financial Times Best Book
Finalist – Saskatchewan Book Awards Fiction Award
Finalist – Saskatchewan Book Awards Saskatoon Book Award
"Brilliant. . . . The subject of Beatrice & Virgil is not just one boy’s improbable adventure, but the very real horror of the Holocaust, and the difficulty of doing it justice in telling it. Martel works not at two levels, but several. . . . Be assured that with this short, crisply written, many-layered book, Martel has once again demonstrated that nothing tells the truth like fiction."
— The Plain Dealer
"Ruptures the division between worlds real and imagined, forcing us to reconsider how we think of documentary writing. Forget what this book is ‘about’: Yann Martel’s new novel not only opens us to the emotional and psychological truths of fiction, but also provides keys to open its fictions ourselves, and to become, in some way, active participants in their creation."
— The Globe and Mail
"A chilling addition to the literature about the horrors most of us cannot imagine, and will stir its readers to think about the depths of depravity to which humanity can sink and the amplitude of our capacity to survive."
— The Huffington Post
"Dark but divine. . . . Martel knows exactly what he’s doing in this lean little allegory about a talking donkey and monkey. This novel just might be a masterpiece about the Holocaust. . . . Somehow Martel brilliantly guides the reader from the too-sunny beginning into the terrifying darkness of the old man’s shop and Europe’s past. Everything comes into focus by the end, leaving the reader startled, astonished and moved."
— USA Today
"The very idea that we think that we have heard the story enough is perhaps a sign that we have not. . . . [R]ead Yann Martel’s Beatrice & Virgil. You will be glad that you did, and you may find yourself seeing your life and the world, both fictional and otherwise, in a different light."
"Martel’s prose is artfully simple and clear. . . . Those who enjoyed the cerebral aspects of Life of Pi will find things to admire."
— Winnipeg Free Press
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
The award-winning author of four previous books, the most recent of which is What Is Stephen Harper Reading?, Yann Martel was born in Spain in 1963. He studied philosophy at Trent University, worked at odd jobs - tree planter, dishwasher, security guard - and travelled widely before turning to writing. He was awarded the Journey Prize for the title story in The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios. His second novel, Life of Pi, won the 2002 Man Booker, among other prizes.
Yann Martel lives in Saskatoon with the writer Alice Kuipers and their son.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Pleasantly surprised I guess is the more concise way to put it. I was pleasantly surprised.
Parallels with the author's own life are evident from the start, with the protagonist - an author - trying to follow up his immensely popular earlier novel with an unconventionally structured (and dual covered) book about the Holocaust. The parallels then start layering, like Russian nesting dolls. The author (the one in the book) receives a cryptic message asking for help from another author - a playwright, actually - with the same first name, Henry, and the dayjob of taxidermist.
The taxidermist requests Henry's help finishing his play, which is about two stuffed animals, a donkey (Beatrice) and a howler monkey (Virgil). Beatrice and Virgil's dialogue in the play is very plain, about mundane topics such as the nature of a pear. Their dialogue, much like in Beckett's Waiting for Godot, is about much more than the apparent topic, referencing past literature and reflecting the authors' relationship with each other. As the book unfolds, the various parallels become more evident, and the book finishes by tying the various threads together in a natural, tight conclusion. The writing is, of course, much richer than this simple plot summary can convey, and readers will appreciate Yartel's clever execution. I found myself smiling numerous times throughout the story.
The self-referencial nature of the book has many antecedents, from Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman to Hunter S. Thompson's many works, and although some may find the structure a bit precious, Martel pulls it off very well. A thoroughly enjoyable, quick read, that will leave you wanting to discuss it over pi (sic).
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