September 21, 2007

IN THE CITY OF YELLOW STAR:

'We need a new metaphor' (JACKIE McGLONE, 9/22/07, The Scotsman)

RUMOURS HAVE BEEN RIFE IN THE chattering classes over the last five years as to why it was taking Yann Martel, author of the international bestseller Life of Pi, so long to produce his next novel. There were whispers about a severe case of writer's block, as well as murmurings about a doomed love affair.

None of these tales about the Canadian writer - who won the 2002 Man Booker prize for his dazzling magical realist novel about an Indian boy stranded at sea with a Bengal tiger - were true, even the ones about him having made so much money from the sale of the film rights that he need never write another word again.

Martel had indeed fallen in love - of which more later - but he was also taking all the time he needed to write his next book, his fourth work of fiction. It promises to be just as unusual as the lyrical Life of Pi, which, after being published in more than 40 countries, has sold six million copies and now ranks as a modern classic.

"Certainly this new book will be very different, since it combines both fiction and non-fiction in one volume," says Martel, 44, when we meet over afternoon tea in Edinburgh before his sell-out event at the International Book Festival, where he launched a gorgeously illustrated edition of Life of Pi.

He had already embarked on his next novel, an allegory on the Holocaust, when he won the Booker, a seismic event that changed his life and which led to him spending two years globetrotting to promote it. "My writing life was interrupted, but I didn't mind," explains Martel. "I really enjoyed the ride; it was a wonderful vacation. I got to stay in nice hotels and I got to meet my readers and to hear what the book has meant to them - such as the Swiss woman who insisted that Life of Pi was actually a metaphor for marriage and the Canadian man who told me it was really a novel about stamp collecting. But I was always thinking about my writing, about my next novel.


His explanation of the plot always did sound interesting.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 21, 2007 8:49 PM
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