A few words about book's author
Yann Martel was born in Spain in 1963 of Canadian parents. Life of Pi won the 2002 Man Booker Prize and has been translated into more than forty languages. A #1 New York Times bestseller, it spent 104 weeks on the list and was adapted to the screen by Ang Lee. He is also the author of the novels Beatrice and Virgil and Self , the collection of stories The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios , and a collection of letters to the prime minister of Canada, 101 Letters to a Prime Minister . He lives in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Sometime in the early 1990s, Yann Martel stumbled across a critique in The New York Times Review of Books by John Updike that captured his curiosity. Although Updikes response to Moacyr Scliars Max and the Cats was fairly icy and indifferent, the premise immediately intrigued Martel. According to Martel, Max and the Cats was, as far as I can remember... about a zoo in Berlin run by a Jewish family. The year is 1933 and, not surprisingly, business is bad. The family decides to emigrate to Brazil. Alas, the ship sinks and one lone Jew ends up in a lifeboat with a black panther. Whether or not the story was as uninspiring as Updike had indicated in his review, Martel was both fascinated by this premise and frustrated that he had not come up with it himself. Ironically, Martels account of the plot of Max and the Cats wasnt completely accurate. In fact, in Scliars novel, Max Schmidt did not belong to a family of zookeepers — he was the son of furrier. Furthermore, he did not emigrate from Berlin to Brazil with his family as the result of a failing zoo, but was forced to flee Hamburg after his lovers husband sells him out to the Nazi secret police. So, this plot that so enthralled Martel — which he did not pursue for several years because he assumed Moacyr Scliar had already tackled it — was more his own than he had thought. Meanwhile, Martel managed to write and publish two books: a collection of short stories titled The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios in 1993 and a novel about gender confusion called Self in 1996. Both books sold only moderately well, further frustrating the writer. In an effort to collect his thoughts and refresh his creativity, he took a trip to India, first spending time in bustling Bombay. However, the overcrowded city only furthered Martels feelings of alienation and dissolution. He then decided to move on to Matheran, a section near Bombay but without that citys dense population. In this peaceful hill station overlooking the city, Martel began revisiting an idea he had not considered in some time, the premise he had unwittingly created when reading Updikes review in The New York Times Review of Books. He developed the idea even further away from Max and the Cats. While Scliars novel was an extended holocaust allegory, Martel envisioned his story as a witty, whimsical, and mysterious meditation on zoology and theology. Unlike Max Schmidt, Pi Patel would, indeed, be the son of a zookeeper. Martel would, however, retain the shipwrecked-with-beasts theme from Max and the Cats. During an ocean exodus from India to Canada, the ship sinks and Pi finds himself stranded on a lifeboat with such unlikely shipmates as a zebra, a hyena, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The resulting novel, Life of Pi, became the smash-hit for which Martel had been longing. Selling well over a million copies and receiving the accolades of Book Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and, yes, The New York Times Review of Books, Life of Pi has been published in over 40 countries and territories, in over 30 languages. It is currently in production by Fox Studios with a script by master-of-whimsy Jean-Pierre Jeunet (City of Lost Children; Amélie) and directorial duties to be handled by Alfonso Cuarón (Y tu mamá también; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). Martel is now working on his third novel, a bizarrely allegorical adventure about a donkey and a monkey that travel through a fantastical world... on a shirt. Well, at least no one will ever accuse him of borrowing that premise from any other writer.Good To Know
Life of Pi is not Yann Martels first work to be adapted for the screen. His short story Manners of Dying was made into a motion picture by fellow Canadian resident Jeremy Peter Allen in 2004. When he isnt penning modern masterpieces, Martel spends much of his time volunteering in a palliative care unit.