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The High Mountains of Portugal: A Novel Hardcover – February 2, 2016
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“Pack your bags: Fifteen years after The Life of Pi, Yann Martel is taking us on another long journey. Fans of his Man Booker Prize–winning novel will recognize familiar themes from that seafaring phenomenon, but the itinerary in this imaginative new book is entirely fresh. . . . Martel’s writing has never been more charming, a rich mixture of sweetness that’s not cloying and tragedy that’s not melodramatic. . . . The High Mountains of Portugal attains an altitude from which we can see something quietly miraculous.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“Just as ambitious, just as clever, just as existential and spiritual [as Life of Pi] . . . a book that rewards your attention . . . an excellent book club choice.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“There’s no denying the simple pleasures to be had in The High Mountains of Portugal.”—Chicago Tribune
“Charming . . . Most Martellian is the boundless capacity for parable. . . . Martel knows his strengths: passages about the chimpanzee and his owner brim irresistibly with affection and attentiveness.”—The New Yorker
“A rich and rewarding experience . . . [Martel] spins his magic thread of hope and despair, comedy and pathos.”—USA Today
“I took away indelible images from High Mountains, enchanting and disturbing at the same time: the motorcar hitting obstacle after obstacle as it gradually, comically falls to pieces (as does its driver), or the ape as he swings his way across the rooftops of a Portuguese village. As whimsical as Martel’s magic realism can be, grief informs every step of the book’s three journeys. In the course of the novel we burrow ever further into the heart of an ape, pure and threatening at once, our precursor, ourselves. You must change your life.”—NPR
“Refreshing, surprising and filled with sparkling moments of humor and insight.”—The Dallas Morning News
“We’re fortunate to have brilliant writers using their fiction to meditate on a paradox we need urgently to consider—the unbridgeable gap and the unbreakable bond between human and animal, our impossible self-alienation from our world. . . . [Martel’s] semi-surreal, semi-absurdist mode is well suited to exploring the paradox. The moral and spiritual implications of his tale have, in the end, a quality of haunting tenderness.”—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian
“Martel continues his quirky romance with ideas, using three interlocking novellas to chew over religious revelation, human mortality, and interspecies communication, among other notions. . . . [He] maintains his fascination with the porous borders between homo sapiens and other species. . . . [Martel packs] his inventive novel with beguiling ideas. What connects an inept curator to a haunted pathologist to a smitten politician across more than seventy-five years is the author’s ability to conjure up something uncanny at the end.”—The Boston Globe
“A fine home, and story, in which to find oneself.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Written with nuanced beauty; not for nothing has Martel established himself as our premier writer of animal-based fiction.”—Toronto Star
“Gleefully bizarre, genuinely thrilling and entirely heartbreaking . . . While The High Mountains of Portugal is an exuberantly narrative novel, it is even more so a contemplative, philosophical one. . . . The book’s prose [reminds] us of how subtle and elegant a craftsman Martel is. . . . High Mountains resists the reader at every turn in the most pleasing way possible: it does not seek to offer you absolute truth, though it contains much wisdom; instead, it seeks to evade you, and in doing so deepens your sense of its mysteries, and the mysteries of the world we share with it.”—The Globe and Mail
“Filled with humor, sadness, love and adventure, it’s a perfect balance for those who want a feel-good book that still provides an insight into the human psyche.”—BookPage
“Whimsical magical realism . . . Fans of modern fables will feel right at home untangling the messages hidden within the narrative.”—Paste
“Highly imaginative . . . Martel’s narrative wizardry connects three novellas set seven decades apart in the eponymous region of Portugal. . . . Martel is in a class by himself in acknowledging the tragic vicissitudes of life while celebrating wildly ridiculous contretemps that bring levity to the mystery of existence.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A remarkable novel.”—Maclean’s
“The prose is sharp, comical, and carries a deeply poignant message: though religion may be one person’s belief structure and another’s laughing stock, it is important to humanity.”—The List
“His depiction of loss is raw and deeply affecting—but it’s the way in which he contextualises it within formal religion that gives this book an extra dimension. Martel’s writing is enriched and amplified by the abundance and intricacy of his symbology (touching on Job, St. Peter, Doubting Thomas and the parables of Jesus) and his probing of religion’s consolations. Martel is not in the business of providing us with answers, but through its odd, fabulous, deliberately oblique stories, his new novel does ask some big questions.”—The Telegraph (four stars)
“[An] extravagant smorgasbord of a novel . . . If fans of [Life of Pi] have been feeling deprived, they will be happy to know [that The High Mountains of Portugal] deals in many of the same fundamental questions of life, love, family and faith. . . . At every turn Martel’s deft observations and quiet compassion for human suffering shine through.”—The Saturday Paper
About the Author
Yann Martel is the author of Life of Pi, the global bestseller that won the 2002 Man Booker Prize (among other honors) and was adapted to the screen in the Oscar-winning film by Ang Lee. He is also the author of the short story collection The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, the novels Self and Beatrice and Virgil, and the nonfiction work 101 Letters to a Prime Minister. Born in Spain in 1963, Martel studied philosophy at Trent University, worked at odd jobs—tree planter, dishwasher, security guard—and traveled widely before turning to writing. He lives in Saskatoon, Canada, with the writer Alice Kuipers and their four children.
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