NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Fifteen years after The Life of Pi, Yann Martel is taking us on another long journey. Fans of his Man Booker Prize–winning novel will recognize familiar themes from that seafaring phenomenon, but the itinerary in this imaginative new book is entirely fresh. . . . Martel’s writing has never been more charming.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR
In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that—if he can find it—would redefine history. Traveling in one of Europe’s earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure.
Thirty-five years later, a Portuguese pathologist devoted to the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie finds himself at the center of a mystery of his own and drawn into the consequences of Tomás’s quest.
Fifty years on, a Canadian senator takes refuge in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, grieving the loss of his beloved wife. But he arrives with an unusual companion: a chimpanzee. And there the century-old quest will come to an unexpected conclusion.
The High Mountains of Portugal—part quest, part ghost story, part contemporary fable—offers a haunting exploration of great love and great loss. Filled with tenderness, humor, and endless surprise, it takes the reader on a road trip through Portugal in the last century—and through the human soul.
Praise for The High Mountains of Portugal
“Just as ambitious, just as clever, just as existential and spiritual [as Life of Pi] . . . a book that rewards your attention . . . an excellent book club choice.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“There’s no denying the simple pleasures to be had in The High Mountains of Portugal.”—Chicago Tribune
“Charming . . . Most Martellian is the boundless capacity for parable. . . . Martel knows his strengths: passages about the chimpanzee and his owner brim irresistibly with affection and attentiveness.”—The New Yorker
“A rich and rewarding experience . . . [Martel] spins his magic thread of hope and despair, comedy and pathos.”—USA Today
“I took away indelible images from High Mountains, enchanting and disturbing at the same time. . . . As whimsical as Martel’s magic realism can be, grief informs every step of the book’s three journeys. In the course of the novel we burrow ever further into the heart of an ape, pure and threatening at once, our precursor, ourselves.”—NPR
“Refreshing, surprising and filled with sparkling moments of humor and insight.”—The Dallas Morning News
“We’re fortunate to have brilliant writers using their fiction to meditate on a paradox we need urgently to consider—the unbridgeable gap and the unbreakable bond between human and animal, our impossible self-alienation from our world.”—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian
“[Martel packs] his inventive novel with beguiling ideas. What connects an inept curator to a haunted pathologist to a smitten politician across more than seventy-five years is the author’s ability to conjure up something uncanny at the end.”—The Boston Globe
“A fine home, and story, in which to find oneself.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Anyone who’s read Life of Pi knows that Canadian author Yann Martel has a gift for turning preposterous situations into emotionally rich and spiritual fables. In many ways, The High Mountains of Portugal contains plot twists more fantastical than spending 227 days on a meager raft with a ferocious tiger. There’s a Book of Job–grade disastrous car trip, a mind-blowing autopsy, and many strange encounters with chimpanzees. We weren’t sure what to make of it all, but by the end of the three interlocking chapters, we were mesmerized and uplifted by Martel’s propulsive, magical realist meditation on faith and finding peace in the eye of the storm.
An Iberian rhinoceros, two chimpanzees, three dead wives, and two dead toddlers all figure in this highly imaginative novel. Martel's narrative wizardry connects three novellas set seven decades apart in the eponymous region of Portugal. In the first section, titled "Homeless" and set in 1904, Tom s Lobo, a young resident of Lisbon whose wife and son have died, begins to walk backward "to face the uncertainty of the future," since everything he cherished in life has been taken away. Though he has lost his religious faith, he vows to find a "strange and marvelous" crucifix that resembles a chimpanzee in a church in the tiny village of Tuizelo. His quest goes awry in highly comic ways: an episode that finds him naked in a meadow rubbing lice powder over his body rivals the hilarious meerkat scene in Martel's Life of Pi. Characters from Tuizelo figure in the second section, "Homeward," set in 1938. A pathologist receives a visit from his dead wife and later discovers a dead chimpanzee curled in the body of a man on whom he does an autopsy. Martel handles this improbable scene with convincing magical realism. "Home," the third section, is set in 1981 Canada, where a politician mourning his dead wife impulsively buys a chimpanzee called Odo and travels to Tuizelo, where he was born. His grief is assuaged and his faith is restored by the ancient crucifix and the simple pleasures of country life. Martel is in a class by himself in acknowledging the tragic vicissitudes of life while celebrating wildly ridiculous contretemps that bring levity to the mystery of existence.
Very good writing about Portugal, as if you are living there , vivid and correct
The high mountains of Portugal
I really enjoyed the book.
Just when I was sure Martel lost his story line(and his mind) he would pull it all back together!
Different but a great read.
Dr. James Roy Appleton Jr.
I'm Reading It Again
I enjoyed this book and especially this authors writing. His words will touch your heart.