Yann Martel was born in Salamanca, Spain, in 1963, of Canadian parents who
were doing graduate studies. Later they both joined the Canadian foreign
service and he grew up in Costa Rica, France, Spain and Mexico, in addition to
Canada. He continued to travel widely as an adult, spending time in Iran, Turkey
and India, but is now based mainly in Montreal. He obtained a degree in
Philosophy from Trent University in Ontario, then worked variously as a tree
planter, dishwasher and security guard before taking up writing full-time
from the age of 27.
His first book, a collection of short stories titled The Facts Behind the
Helsinki Roccamatios, was first published in 1993. The stories deal
with themes such as illness, storytelling and the history of the twentieth
century; music, war and the anguish of youth; how we die; and grief, loss and
the reasons we are attached to material objects.
His first novel, Self, was published in 1996. The Montreal
Gazette described it as '[a] superb psychological acute observation on love,
attraction and belonging'.
In 2002 he won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction for his second novel, Life of
Pi (2002), an epic survival story with an overarching religious theme.
Life of Pi has been published in over forty countries and in thirty
He is also the author of We Ate the Children Last (2004) and Beatrice and Virgil (2010). He lives in Montreal where he divides his time between yoga, writing
and volunteering in a palliative care unit.
Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2002 (Life of Pi)
Winner of the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction 2001 (Life of Pi)
Shortlisted for the 2001 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction (Life
Shortlisted for Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award (Self)
Winner of the Journey Prize (Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios)
This biography was last updated on 07/19/2011.
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