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A profound, imaginative novel about storytelling, truth and the long reach of the past
Destiny can take many shapes. For Henry, a writer struggling to finish a book about the Holocaust, it arrives in the form of a puzzling envelope from a stranger.
The envelope takes him into a taxidermist’s workshop. Filled with lovingly preserved animals from all corners of the globe, this place is unlike anywhere he has ever been. Among the hundreds of stuffed animals are Beatrice and Virgil: a monkey and a donkey—they are also the characters in a play the taxidermist is writing.
When taxidermist asks Henry for help with the play, he is drawn in. But what is this play actually about? What have the animals suffered at the hands of the author? Who is he? And what does he really want from Henry?
With the imaginative reach and spirit that helped Life of Pi delight over seven million readers around the world, Beatrice and Virgil asks profound questions about violence, kindness, and the power of stories to change us.
Martel has again delivered a complex, stunning and important work … The devastating impact of this book is delivered with such quiet grace that the dawning awareness that this is a novel about fictionalising the Holocaust creeps up on the reader. The final section, a series of games, is equally confronting.
… the apparent lightness of his compelling storytelling carries with it a dark and disturbing echo that resounds like the great symphony of terrible howls projected through the sound system in Okapi Taxidermy.
Beautifully written, unconventional and intriguing
As the successor to his tremendously successful Life of Pi, Martel’s new book benefits from his serious intellect and superb writing skills … [A]n unusual and provocative take on a profound, hauntingly enduring subject.