It’s not unknown for Booker Prize winners to have a hard time writing the next book. Neither Arundhati Roy and Keri Hulme have managed it yet, and it was beginning to look like Canadian Yann Martel would be permanently among their number. But the author of The Life of Pi, which has sold over 10 million copies—the bestselling Booker winner ever—since Martel took the award in 2002, has announced a new book to be published worldwide next year. And like Pi, Martel’s new book will have animals as key central characters—a howling monkey called Virgil and a donkey called Beatrice—in its tale of how Henry, a writer, strikes up a friendship with a taxidermist who is writing a play about the animals. The novel, which may be titled Beatrice and Virgil, is an allegorical story about the Holocaust in which comparisons are made with Dante’s Inferno. (The animals’ names reflect Dante’s Comedy—Virgil as his guide through Hell and Beatrice through Heaven.) “I’ve noticed over years of reading books on the Holocaust that it’s nearly always represented the same way—historical or social realism,” said Martel. “I think writers have been fearful of letting the imagination loose on the Holocaust. My novel is an attempt to see if there is a way of talking about the Holocaust without talking about it literally.” The news comes as plans are advanced for the film director Ang Lee, best known for Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, to shoot The Life of Pi.
Yann Martel is returning to bookstores
“I think writers have been fearful of letting the imagination loose on the Holocaust"