Yann Martel

Early Life

Yann Martel was born on the 25th of June in 1963, in Salamanca, Spain. His father, Nicole Perron, was a diplomat and a poet, while his mother, Émile Martel was a writer and Canadian diplomat. Soon after his birth, the family traveled to several places including Portugal, Spain, Mexico, United States, Alaska, and Victoria. His father taught at the University of Victoria Alaska. Yann Martel’s exposure to many countries and the literary passion of his parents played pivotal roles in his professional career as a writer.


Yann Martel spent his childhood, living in different countries. His formal education started at Trinity College School, where he completed two years of his studies followed by Trent University, where he completed his degree in philosophy. After completing graduation in 1985, he nurtured his writing passion and considered a career in politics as well. Before committing himself to write, he took up various jobs including a librarian, a security guard, a dishwasher, and a tree planter. However, with the publication of The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios and Other Stories, he established himself as a writer by 1993.

Some Important Facts of His Life

  1. He is widely known for the international bestseller, The Life of Pi, published in 2001.
  2. His book, The Life of Pi, won the Man Booker Prize and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film in 2012.
  3. His second novel, The Life of Pi, has translated into more than thirty languages.
  4. He worked as a professor at the Free University of Berlin, Germany, in the years 2002 and 2003 respectively.
  5. He ran a book club from 2007 to 2011 with the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, and sent various books to him including plays, novels, poetry collections, and graphic novels.

His Career

Yann Martel, a celebrated Canadian writer, has emerged as a prolific writer in 1993, with his first publication, The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios and Other Stories, dealing with themes such as storytelling and their history, illness, the anguish of youth, music, war and the importance of material objects in man’s life. This successful effort paved way for further publication and in 1996 when he came up with his first novel, Self. The novel discloses the tale of a traveling writer and his sexual identity. Later, in 2002, he published his masterpiece, Life of Pi, and came to the public attention after winning the Man Booker Prize Award for this book. Later, in 2004, he published a collection of short stories, We Ate the Children Last. Propelled by the success of his second novel, The Life of Pi, he published his next novel, Beatrice and Virgil in 2010. His final work, The High Mountains of Portugal, deals with the importance of faith in life.

His Style

After establishing his career as a writer, Yann earned significant success in his career. He gained immense popularity on account of his thoughtful ideas and unconventional style. Using an emancipating style of writing, he shined a light on universal themes and different elements throughout his literary works by effectively using certain literary elements and different structural techniques. Moreover, his writings present a perfect blend of humorous situations and seriousness. Also, the representation of animal characters in We ate the Children Last, Beatrice and Virgil helped him to amplify different elements and convey universal themes.

He never dealt with fanciful subjects and unnecessary details in his pieces, instead, he preferred focusing on the morals of the society at that time. Marked with the use of allegory and symbolism his works constantly engage and attract his readers. Also, his works deal with simple yet complex diction to enhance the unique perspective presented to the readers. Yann Martel intentionally used this distinct style to separate himself from other writers. The recurring thematic strands in most of the writings are loss, youth, and morality. Regarding literary devices, he often turns to metaphors, foreshadowing, imagery, and similes to create a unique style.

Some Important Works of Yann Martel

  • Best Writings: Some of his best works include The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, Self, Life of Pi, We Ate the Children Last, Beatrice and Virgil, and The High Mountains of Portugal.

Yann Martel’s Impacts on Future Literature

Yann Martel is a dynamic writer who started his writing career at a young age. However, it is his good luck that he has won awards during his lifetime. In fact, his unique writing style and literary qualities of his masterpieces have brought novel ideas to global literature. His distinctive writing approach and unique ways have transformed him into a giant writer of this age. Also, he had a significant influence on a diverse range of writers and critics. Yann expressed his thoughts and ideas in his literary pieces so well that even today writers tend to imitate his style, considering him a role model for producing fiction.

Famous Quotes

  1. “I’ve never forgotten him. Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart. I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. The pain is like an axe that chops my heart. “ (Life of Pi)
  2. “To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures who people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one who’s guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. It is like losing–I’m sorry, I would rather not go on.” (Life of Pi)
  3. “You might think I lost all hope at that point. I did. And as a result I perked up and felt much better.” (Life of Pi)