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- Yann Martel (born June 25, 1963 in Salamanca, Spain) is a Canadian author best known for the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi.
As an adult, Martel has traveled the globe, spending time in Iran, Turkey and India. After studying philosophy at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Martel spent thirteen months in India visiting mosques, temples, churches and zoos, and then two years reading religious texts and castaway stories.<1> His first published fictional work, Seven Stories, appeared in 1993 .
In 2001, Life of Pi was published and was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2002. Soon afterwards, a dedication to Brazilian author Moacyr Scliar appearing in the preface of the novel briefly elicited questions about the story's originality. It appeared that the premise of Life of Pi and some aspects of its plot had been inspired by Scliar's Max e os Felinos, published in 1981. Martel admitted having been influenced, but accusations of plagiarism were defused when Scliar read Life of Pi and wrote about it for La Presse, pointing out how entirely different the two books are. Life of Pi was later chosen for the 2003 edition of CBC Radio's Canada Reads competition, where it was championed by author Nancy Lee. In addition, its French translation, Histoire de Pi, was included in the French version of the competition, Le combat des livres, in 2004, championed by singer Louise Forestier.
Martel spent a year in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from September 2003 as the public library's writer-in-residence. He collaborated with Canadian composer Omar Daniel, composer-in-residence at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, on a piece for piano, string quartet and bass. The composition, You Are Where You Are, is based on text written by Martel, which includes parts of cellphone conversations taken from moments in an ordinary day.
In November 2005, the University of Saskatchewan announced that Martel would be scholar-in-residence.<2> He continues to have an office at the University.
His upcoming novel, A 20th century Shirt, will deal with the Holocaust: it will take place between two talking animals (a monkey and a donkey) on a man's dress shirt. It will be published simultaneously with an essay on then same subject, also under the same name. Martel cited them as simply two approaches to the same subject. He claims it will be a philosophical work, essentially just "one long conversation". He is also working on a project entitled What is Stephen Harper Reading,<citation needed> where he is sending the Prime Minister of Canada one book every two weeks that portrays 'stillness' with an accompanying explanatory note. He is posting his letters, book selection and any responses to the website devoted to the project.<3>
Yann Martel currently lives in Saskatoon, Canada