Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Life of Pi author Martel hears from Obama

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SASKATOON -- While much-publicized efforts by Saskatoon author Yann Martel to connect with Prime Minister Stephen Harper via literature have been met by silence, the writer has received a sign of appreciation from a different office.

In February, Martel received an envelope from the White House.

It contained a quick two-paragraph note: "My daughter and I just finished reading Life of Pi together. Both of us agreed we prefer the story with animals. It is a lovely book -- an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling. Thank you."

It was signed by President Barack Obama.

"It blows me away," said Martel. "There's nothing (Obama) can gain from it politically."

Three years ago the Man Booker Prize-winning author began sending Harper letters, accompanied by a book, every two weeks. Martel has since received five replies to the selections, none directly from the prime minister.

While he's not sure Obama's response to Life of Pi will influence Canada's leader, Martel does believe the note creates a tidy comparison between the two.

"I don't think it's going to make any difference, but it's startling to the extent which it sets up a contrast between Stephen Harper and Barack Obama," he said. "Not only does the man know how to speak, with an oratory that has inspired not only the U.S. but the world ... he reads."

-- Saskatoon StarPhoenix

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 8, 2010 D2

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