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Booker winner is a wonderful surprise ; Life Of Pi is a novel of ideas
[Ontario Edition]
Toronto Star - Toronto, Ont.
Date: Oct 23, 2002
Start Page: F.01
Section: ENTERTAINMENT
Abstract (Document Summary)

That Yann Martel's novel, The Life Of Pi, made the shortlist of this year's Booker Prize, still the world's most prestigious for novels, was sufficiently bracing when the news was announced a few weeks ago. Here in Canada, where the novel was first published last year, it had been received with good reviews, but not with extraordinary enthusiasm. It had been nominated for the Governor General's Award for Fiction (English), but lost to Richard Wright's Clara Callan.

The next occasion I interviewed him was on the publication of his 1996 Self, a coming of age novel with an unusual twist- the first person narrator, at the age of 18, changes from a man to a woman, with no explanation given. (He changes back near the end of the novel.) I liked this novel, although there was still a trace of that superior tone- as I wrote in my review, there was a "self-satisfied air about the novel's protagonist," and the novel as a whole had a "slightly chilly cerebral atmosphere (that) did not invite readers to cozy up to it."

It showed. The novel, as I wrote then, was "a wild ride, a compelling narrative, a bit of a joke and a deeply serious story at the same time." It managed to deal with the tricky area of religion in a way that probed deeply and yet retained a deft touch. It was, in a real sense, a novel of ideas and closely attuned to the present.

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