In a brilliant new novel that is as original and luminous as his Booker Prize-winning Life of Pi, Yann Martel takes the reader on a haunting odyssey.
When Henry, a writer, receives an envelope containing a play and a note asking for his help, he is intrigued. The author of the play turns out to be a skilled taxidermist, with a shop unlike any Henry has ever seen, bursting with the palpable life of a lost, vibrant world. And when the mysterious, elderly taxidermist introduces Henry to Beatrice and Virgil, his life is changed forever.
In Beatrice and Virgil, Martel asks profound questions about life and art, truth and deception, responsibility and complicity.
'This is a brilliantly worked, eerily confident performance. There has been nothing like it since his last. And as for writing of animals, no one has been as good as Henry/Martel since D.H. Lawrence and Ted Hughes.' Sydney Morning Herald
Megaselling Life of Pi author Martel addresses, in this clunky metanarrative, the violent legacy of the 20th century with an alter ego: Henry L'H te, an author with a very Martel-like CV who, after a massively successful first novel, gives up writing. Henry and his wife, Sarah, move to a big city ( Perhaps it was New York. Perhaps it was Paris. Perhaps it was Berlin ), where Henry finds satisfying work in a chocolater a and acting in an amateur theater troupe. All is well until he receives a package containing a short story by Flaubert and an excerpt from an unknown play. His curiosity about the sender leads him to a taxidermist named Henry who insists that Henry-the-author help him write a play about a monkey and a donkey. Henry-the-author is at first intrigued by sweet Beatrice, the donkey, and Virgil, her monkey companion, but the animals' increasing peril draws Henry into the taxidermist's brutally absurd world. Martel's aims are ambitious, but the prose is amateur and the characters thin, the coy self-referentiality grates, and the fable at the center of the novel is unbearably self-conscious. When Martel (rather energetically) tries to tug our heartstrings, we're likely to feel more manipulated than moved.