Yann Martel biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Yann Martel

Yann Martel

How to pronounce Yann Martel: yarn mar-TELL (slight emphasis on second syllable)

Yann Martel Biography

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 languages.

He is also the author of We Ate the Children Last (2004) and Beatrice and Virgil (2010) and The High Mountains of Portugal (2016). He lives in Montreal where he divides his time between yoga, writing and volunteering in a palliative care unit.

Awards

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 of Pi)
Shortlisted for Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award (Self)
Winner of the Journey Prize (Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios)



This bio was last updated on 06/07/2016. We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate, but with many thousands of lives to keep track of it's a tough task. So, please help us - if the information about this author is out of date or inaccurate, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and publishers: If you wish to make changes to a bio, send the complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we can replace the old with the new.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Interview

Enjoy an edited chat transcription with Yann Martel, in which he discusses his Booker Award winning novel.

Becky : what was your inspiration in writing Life of Pi?
Yann Martel : Pi was inspired by two things: India, and a so-so review I read ten years ago in the NY Times Review of Books.

Becky : what was the review?
Yann Martel : The review was by Updike of a Brazilian novel. He panned it, but the premise (of a Jew in a lifeboat with a black panther in 1933) struck me.

Terri : had you visited India prior to deciding to write the book?
Yann Martel : Terri, I've been to India three times, each time with a backpack, dazzled by it all.

Terri : but did you go after you'd decided to write the book?
Yann Martel : Yes.I did research the second time I was there, and then went back to clear up small details.

desigrrl : I love the book too, but I am confused. Why was your main character Indian when you are not an Indian yourself?
Yann Martel : Desigrrl, Indian because India is a place where all stories are possible. You forget that the imagination can take hold of anything and contemplate it and love it and describe it.

Becky : Why the three religions in your book?
sam : Good question Becky. I have a similar one, why these 3??

Yann Martel : Becky, the three religions because I wanted to discuss faith, not ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Yann Martel at BookBrowse
The High Mountains of Portugal jacket Beatrice and Virgil jacket Life of Pi jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Yann Martel but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Carol Birch

    Carol Birch

    Carol Birch is the author of ten novels. Jamrach's Menagerie was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, longlisted for the Orange Prize and shortlisted for the Galaxy National Book Awards. Birch won the David Higham Prize for ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Life of Pi

    Try:
    Jamrach's Menagerie
    by Carol Birch

  • Jonathan Safran Foer

    Jonathan Safran Foer

    Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the bestseller Everything Is Illuminated (2002), named Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the winner of numerous awards, including the Guardian First Book Prize, the ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Life of Pi

    Try:
    Everything Is Illuminated
    by Jonathan Safran Foer

We recommend 11 similar authors

View all 11 Readalikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: That Time I Loved You
    That Time I Loved You
    by Carianne Leung
    Carrianne Leung was a Toronto Book Award finalist for That Time I Loved You as well as for her debut...
  • Book Jacket: The Pianist from Syria
    The Pianist from Syria
    by Aeham Ahmad
    Aeham Ahmad became famous as the face of Syrian suffering when a photo of him playing piano in the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Smiling Man
    The Smiling Man
    by Joseph Knox
    Joseph Knox's latest turns on a simple premise: an unidentified and unidentifiable murdered man is ...
  • Book Jacket: The Heavens
    The Heavens
    by Sandra Newman
    I've been a big fan of Sandra Newman's writing ever since reading her 2014 novel The Country of Ice ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Last Year of the War
    by Susan Meissner

    A little-known story of WWII with great resonance for our times.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    American Princess
    by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    Rated 4.9 stars by BookBrowse members - one of the highest scores of all time!
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Girls Burn Brighter
by Shobha Rao

An extraordinary and heart-rending tale of two girls with all the odds against them.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win The Summer Country

Win up to 12 copies to share with friends or your book club!

A sweeping epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D T T! Full S A!

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.