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I often get asked the question why I use animals in my stories. Life of Pi was set in a zoo and featured a number of animals, and animals once again play a prominent role in my new novel, Beatrice and Virgil. Am I a great animal lover? Well, I suppose I am; nature is indeed beautiful. But the actual reason I like to use animals is because they help me tell my tale. People are cynical about people, but less so about wild animals. A rhinoceros dentist elicits less skepticism, in some ways, than a German dentist. I also use animals in my fiction because people rarely see animals as they truly are, biologically. Rather, they tend to project human traits onto them, seeing nobility in one species, cowardice in another, and so on. This is biological nonsense, of course; every species is and behaves as it needs to in order to survive. But this animal-as-canvas quality is useful for a storyteller. It means that an animal that people feel kindly towards becomes a character that readers feel kindly towards.
Why did I choose to write a novel about the Holocaust? There’s nothing personal to this interest; I’m neither Jewish, nor of German or eastern European extraction. I’m a complete outsider who’s been staring at this monstrous massacre of innocents since I first learned about it as a child living in France. It’s as an artist that I’ve kept coming back to the subject. What can I do as an artist about the Holocaust? I believe that if history does not express itself as art, it will not survive in common human memory. And so I took what I knew of the Holocaust, the cumulative knowledge of my reading and viewing and visiting (both to camps in Poland and Germany and to Yad Vashem in Israel and to various museums), and I set it next to that part of me that wants to understand through the imagination. Then I sat down and wrote Beatrice and Virgil.
To be honest, I just finished this and am completely confused by it. I definitely didn't like it and, like many others, felt manipulated by it. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Alexandra
How do you follow a truly great book like LIFE OF PI without inviting invidious comparison? I guess if one is a novelist, one HAS to follow up one novel with another (unless your... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Clarice
Could not even finish reading the book and the references made at Book Club confirmed I wasn't the only one who disliked the brutality.Published 1 month ago by Gloria D. Williams
I really enjoyed this novel until the last thirty pages, which completely baffled me. The strongest aspects of the story were its subtlety and ambiguity, but the last part of the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Rebecca Figueroa
Honestly I really tried to get into it and hoped i would but halfway through the book i still wasn't feeling it... At all! Read morePublished 2 months ago by KatKinney
For most of this book, I thought this was a work of non-fiction. It was just written that way, which makes it even more haunting. Read morePublished 3 months ago by C. Skvarce
Henry is a writer whose first novel was a huge success. His second novel doesn't do well with his publisher and never makes it to print. Read morePublished 3 months ago by K. Spangler
Yang Martel once again uses animals (as in "Life of Pi")to tell an emotional story about the Holocaust. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mary Boyd