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The High Mountains of Portugal: A Novel Hardcover – Feb 2 2016

3.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Canada (Feb. 2 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345809432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345809438
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 2.8 x 21.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description



The High Mountains of Portugal, not just a story about home but about how home is a story and not a place, falls solidly on the hit side. . . . [A] remarkable novel.” —Maclean’s

“[A] wonderfully inventive, twentieth-century-spanning odyssey that contains some of the finest writing of Martel’s career.” —Mark Medley, The Globe and Mail 

“Beautiful, witty and engaging, Yann Martel’s new novel offers us the same tender exploration of the impact and significance of great love and great loss, belief and unbelief, that has marked all his brilliant, unexpected novels.” —The Gazette

“Martel’s storytelling is fabulous, both literally—he blurs real worlds and dream worlds, human lives and lives of other animals—and figuratively. He lights up the page.” —Barbara J. King, NPR 

The High Mountains of Portugal is a deftly crafted and rewarding read. . . . The doctor in part two speaks of ‘writers who play the language like a mandolin for our entertainment.’ Martel plays it so well.” —Ottawa Citizen

“Captivated and surprised from the first sentence, I could not put this new novel from Yann Martel aside. Billed as a story of great love and great loss, it is all that and more. The High Mountains of Portugal is clever and poetic, laugh-out-loud funny and alive with images and ideas. Rush out and buy this book.” —Ottawa Magazine 

“Lucid and thought provoking.”
Mail on Sunday

“Martel constructs a complicated story that is fascinating, frustrating and, in the end, a brilliant achievement. . . . The High Mountains of Portugal is as deeply sad as it is dryly funny, exploring love and faith in unexpected and memorable ways.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Yann Martel is like a skilled dancer. He leads readers with a strong hand, gliding them through the landscape of his imagination, page by page. . . . The High Mountains of Portugal is another tour de force, exemplifying the power of fiction, allegory and bold creativity. . . . [Martel’s characters] will live in the reader’s mind long after the book itself begins collecting dust. . . . [A] wonderful dance.” —Anne Watson, National Observer 

“[A] strange and wonderful novel—and [its] pieces come together in a masterful ending, the kind that sends you back to the start to begin all over again. Martel most definitely has his quirks. There are some odd turns of phrase in The High Mountains. . . . But the exuberant wordplay enhances the equally vivid storytelling. I took away indelible images from High Mountains, enchanting and disturbing at the same time. . . . As whimsical as Martel’s magic realism can be, grief informs every step of the book’s three journeys. In the course of the novel we burrow ever further into the heart of an ape, pure and threatening at once, our precursor, ourselves.” —Jean Zimmerman, NPR 

“[E]ntirely fresh. . . . Martel’s writing has never been more charming, a rich mixture of sweetness that’s not cloying and tragedy that’s not melodramatic. . . . The High Mountains of Portugal attains an altitude from which we can see something quietly miraculous.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“[E]xquisite and beguiling. . . . The structure of the book embodies its gentle whimsy. . . . Martel explores the nature of grief in a manner that is delicate, subtle and unexpected. This is a rich vein in his writing; it is explored wonderfully in stories such as The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios. Martel’s work is a bit like the ocean on a nice day. The surface of his prose presents a calm and glistening exterior, allowing gentle waves to tickle your toes and often make you laugh. But there is a lot going on beneath the surface. The High Mountains of Portugal is a delightful and enlivening experience. Its very strangeness makes the world feel more comfortable.” —The Sydney Morning Herald

About the Author

YANN MARTEL is the author of Life of Pi, the #1 international bestseller published in more than 50 territories that has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide, won the 2002 Man Booker (among many other prizes), spent more than a year on Canadian and international bestseller lists, and was adapted to the screen in an Oscar-winning film by Ang Lee. It was selected for Esquire's list of top ten books and the Toronto Star's ten most important books of the decade. He is also the award-winning author of The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios (which won the Journey Prize), Self, Beatrice & Virgil, and a book of recommended reading: 101 Letters to a Prime Minister. 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 lives in Saskatoon with the writer Alice Kuipers and their four children. The author lives in Saskatoon, SK.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It took me awhile to acclimatize to this book but it eventually claimed my interest. Written in 3 connected parts, it is an examination of sorrow and how it can sideswipe us out of our day-to-day lives but won't let us off the daily hook completely. I was particularly engaged by the third story of a former Canadian senator and his relationship with a chimpanzee named Odo. Each of the three stories has elements that are off-kilter (it IS Yann Martel after all) but each is compelling in its own way. Recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
In The High Mountains of Portugal, author Yann Martel has cleverly woven four tales of grief into an adventurous journey across Portugal.

In Part One (1904), we meet Tomas, who mourns his lover and young son, as he drives an early Renault into the mountains in search of long lost artifact. He is following the trail of crucifix made centuries ago by Father Ulisses, a missionary to Sao Tome, who left clues to it's creation in his journal. It was also a testement to the grief of losing his faith.

I was captivated by this section. I enjoyed learning of the difficulties Tomas encountered on his trip and how he strove to overcome them.

In Part Two (1938), we meet pathologist Eusebio Lozora, who is expected to perform the autopsy of his wife. This is the one section of the book that I had trouble with. I admit that I really didn't understand the wife. She did draw some interesting parallels involving Agatha Christie.

In Part Three (1981), Peter Tovy has just been appointed to the Canadian Senate. He is at loose ends, not having recovered from the loss of his dear wife. I loved the tale of how he ended up with a chimpanzee in Portugal. I could not put the book down once I reached this section.

These four men all deal with their grief in very different ways. Mr. Martel has used the freedom of fiction to explore various ways of expressing their pain. I am left pondering this round trip, return to the high mountains. Did the journeys of these men provide a balm for their grief.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a magical, fantastical, totally fall-in-loveable story of a man, a chimp, an extinct rhino (we think) a pathologist, a church, a crucifix, a boy, a vintage car, an old woman, a suitcase, Agatha Christie's books, love, wonder and death. And more, yes more. And it clips along and the writing is beautiful and it's told in three parts and that's okay, and it will make you laugh, cry, walk backwards, be horrified, be slightly disturbed (after all what does a pathologist do), understand love more, life more, death more and much more.

Yann Martel's imagination knows no bounds. I am convinced of this now. It will make you think and ponder. It will make you want to re-read Christie, visit an animal sanctuary, look at church carvings more carefully, take a trip, drive a stick shift and appreciate all the oddballs in life we come across in our ordinary days.

This is a truly stellar work of imagination, full of unbelievable events that need no explanation or interpretation. It all comes together in the end and the end is brilliant. Take the journey to the high mountains of Portugal, it is well worth it. Bring some Port along the way, and don't forget Odo's bananas.
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Format: Hardcover
This new collection of short stories by Yann Martel is one that will leave you thinking and digesting long after reading. While it is hard not to compare The High Mountains of Portugal to Martel’s Man Booker Prize winning novel, Life of Pi, this book of stories is just as engaging and enlightening in its own way. The writing is breathtaking and really digs deep into many themes, including grief, while transporting the reader to the incredible backdrop of the high mountains of Portugal.

Short stories can sometimes leave the reader with a sense of wanting more. When the stories are written in a serial manner, however, there is some satisfaction for the reader that at some point all will be revealed. In the first story in The High Mountains of Portugal, we are met with a quirky man named Tomás who is grieving the loss of multiple family members. This story is one that appeared to be the most developed in the collection and reveals so much about the main character. This story seemed to end to quickly and if not for the following stories that found their way back to this first one, the reader would really be left hanging.

Each of these stories examines the themes of love and grief in their own unique manner. There is a quest for one of the characters, a revelation for another and an incredible journey with a primate for the last. Although each of these tales are different, there is an element that ties them to one another that is discovered along each of these journeys. The raw emotions and the mourning that each of Martel’s characters endure is woven into a rich and beautiful tapestry that is very thought provoking and profound.

As well, all of the stories eventually take the reader and the characters to the high mountains of Portugal at some point.
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Format: Kindle Edition
the story telling is magic...it steps into the real and the unreal as if it's all the same... easy to go back and read it again....once is not enough!!
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