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Self [Paperback]

Yann Martel
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 April 2003
Edgy, funny and devastating, Self is the fictional autobiography of a young writer at the heart of which is a startling twist. This extraordinary life meanders through a rich, complicated, bittersweet world. The discoveries of childhood give way to the thousand pangs of adolescence, culminating in the sudden shocking news of an accident abroad. And as adulthood begins, indecisively, boundaries are crossed between countries, languages and people . . .

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Self + Beatrice and Virgil + The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (7 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571219764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571219766
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 311,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Yann Martel was born in Spain in 1963. After studying philosophy at university, he worked at odd jobs and travelled before turning to writing at the age of twenty-six. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed 2002 Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi, which was translated into thirty-eight languages and spent fifty-seven weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. His collection of short stories, The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, and his first novel, Self, both received critical acclaim. Yann Martel lives in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Product Description

About the Author

Yann Martel was born in Salamanca, Spain, in 1963, and now lives in Montreal. He is the author of a collection of stories, The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, and two novels, Self and the Booker Prize-winning Life of Pi.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
After 'The Life of Pi', Yann Martel established himself as a great author. However, I doubt as many people would have read the life of poi if they had read 'Self' first!

Yann Martel's writing is excellent, very well-paced and enjoyable to read. Hoiwever, I was really troubled by the story I must admit. In this book he tries to explore the pains of life through anumber of different identities: the beginning of the book is autobiographical, then the main character suddenly becomes a lesbian woman. The identities continue to change without much warning or any particular reason. Yes, sex is very explicit in this book and so is violence. I suppose although I was quite drawn to it out of curiosity rather than suspense or un-put-down-ability of the book, I'm not quite sure I'd recommend it too highly. If you want a good introduction to Martel, start with the life if Pi!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decidedly odd... 14 July 2003
By A Customer
Upon hearing the name "Yann Martel", I assume people will immediately conjoin the words "Pi" and "Booker" to it. Yet for a canny insight into the award-winning writer's life (or so it seems), not to mention a less prophetic and philosophical read than his other work, Self would be the one to opt for.
The blurb reads "What is fiction? What is autobiography? Where do the two meet?", with this question repeated for Man-Woman and Violence-Happiness. I can safely say that Martel has indeed blurred the boundaries between these words, these concepts, thus demolishing societal norms and adding a delightful new dimension to the autobiography genre. I admit it may not be to the tastes of hardcore readers of this genre, but for those looking for a distinctly unique and heady mélange of fiction and reality (many of Martel's real experiences are subtly peppered in), there's simply no other place to go.
As for where Fiction & Autobiography, Man & Woman, or Violence & Happiness meet... read the book and decide for yourselves - the answer may not be what you expect, much like the novel itself.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating carrots 26 Jun 2003
By yasmin
I read this book in a day, unable to give it up. I then re-read it in a week, taking my time to savour the genius of martel's writing. It's been a long time since an author not only wrote an amazing tale but also wrote with such craft. Martel's use of language turns ordinary stuff into fascinating detail. I will read this over and over again; and I now see carrots in a new light.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I bought this book along with "Life of Pi", and chose to read it first. This is a very unusual book indeed. It starts off as an autobiography, and a rather delightful one too. We see a fascinating insight into the authors unusual childhood, and during the course of narration he explores a number of different subjects as might go though a child's mind. Then suddenly the book takes a completely unexpected turn - one can only imagine that he felt that at the stage of his life in which he was in, he did not have enough material to continue on an autobiographical slant. So his tale suddenly turns to one of pure fiction, though I guess he was still incorpoating things that had happenned in his life, he was retelling them as though he had been a woman. After the initial surprise, this works well for a while, although unfortunately he doesn't really know how to take the story forward, so it rather disintegrates into a kind of sexual fantasy, once you're about half way through the book. Nevertheless, (in my humble opinion) he does manage to capture the female perspective on life with a good deal of aplomb - to such an extent that the story loses any appeal to the male reader!
He then goes on to bring the story to a rather brutal and unfortunate end, without ever having explored the male / female switch in any great depth. Its a shame that after writing the initial account of his childhood he didn't simply shelve it until later in life where it could form part of a more complete autobiography. In any case, he is a very talented and original writer and I'm looking forward to reading Life of Pi.
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