Yann Martel

Winner of the Man Booker Prize-winning Life of Pi and New York Times bestseller Beatrice and Virgil

  • About Yann Martel

    Yann Martel achieved worldwide acclaim with the publication of his novel Life of Pi, which won the 2002 Man Booker Prize. It was published in 44 countries and became an international bestseller, with over 7 million copies sold. The director Ang Lee adapted the novel to the silver screen in 2012, and the film has been nominated for 11 Academy Awards.

    Yann Martel was born in Salamanca, Spain, in 1963. He grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Victoria, British Columbia. Then, when his parents joined the Canadian Foreign Service, Martel found himself living in Costa Rica, Paris, Madrid, and Mexico City. He continued to travel as an adult, spending time in Turkey, Iran, India, Europe, and South America. He studied philosophy at Trent University in Ontario and worked at odd jobs—tree-planter, dishwasher, security guard—before turning to writing. His collection of short stories, The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, was published to critical acclaim in 1993 and came out in eight countries. His first novel, Self, was published in 1996 in five countries. In preparation for writing Life of Pi, Martel spent a year in India visiting places of worship and zoos. For Beatrice and Virgil, he visited Yad Vashem in Israel and made three trips to Auschwitz, in addition to reading over 80 books about the Holocaust.

    His most recent novel, Beatrice and Virgil (2010), uses the power of allegory to address the Holocaust. In this extraordinary feat of storytelling, he explores the unexplainable, and the limitations of language in understanding who we are and what we are capable of doing.

  • Speaking Topics

    Why Stories Matter More than Facts

    Yann Martel discusses the value of fiction and how stories, mere stories, can change the world.

    Fiction and the Politician

    Yann Martel speaks about his guerrilla book club with the Prime Minister of Canada. For four years, Martel sent him a book every two weeks with a letter explaining why he should read it. What can a Prime Minister or a President gain from reading? Yann Martel tries to answer that question.

    Life of Pi—the Writing of, the Making of, the World of

    Yann Martel speaks about the writing of the novel for which he is best known.

  • Video

  • Praise for Yann Martel

    Yann projects a remarkable comfort on stage; not only a philosopher, an interpreter of ideas, he is quick-witted and quite funny. He is a consummate storyteller.

    California Lectures

    Praise for Beatrice and Virgil

    Dark but divine…This novel might just be a masterpiece about the Holocaust…Martel brilliantly guides the reader from the too-sunny beginning into the terrifying darkness of the old man's shop and Europe's past. Everything comes into focus by the end, leaving the reader startled, astonished, and moved.

    USA Today

    … a slim but potent exploration of the nature of survival in the face of evil…Beatrice and Virgil is a chilling addition to the literature about the horrors most of us cannot imagine, and will stir its readers to think about the depths of depravity to which humanity can sink and the amplitude of our capacity to survive.

    The Huffington Post
  • Books by Yann Martel

  • Media About Yann Martel

    Interview with Yann Martel

Request Fees
and Availability

  • 212 572-2013
  • Yann Martel travels from Saskatoon, Canada

Similar Speakers

Richard Russo

Author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Empire Falls and his memoir Elsewhere

Jennifer Egan

Critically acclaimed novelist and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Visit from the Goon Squad

Cheryl Strayed

Author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Wild and "Dear Sugar" columnist