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Self Paperback – 7 Apr 2003

3.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (7 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571219764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571219766
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 307,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Let me tell you a secret: The name of the greatest living writer of the generation born in the sixties is Yann Martel." --" L'Humanite ""This is an exhilarating piece of fiction, as bold and original as anything I've read in a long time." -- Charles Foran, "Montreal Gazette ""A powerful story, punctuated by humour and tragedy in much the way real life is. -- Like Rohinton Mistry and Michael Ondaatje, Martel is a brilliant storyteller." -- "Vancouver Sun ""Superb -- Masterfully written. -- Martel has an almost otherworldly talent. -- He is a powerful writer and storyteller, almost a force of nature." -- "Edmonton Journal ""Yann Martel wonderfully represents the child's universe as a seamless whole...A penetrating, funny, original and absolutely delightful exploration.... [Martel] is a natural and often brilliant essayist and expositor, with a knack for aphorism and a rich cultural and literary foundation." -- "Globe and Mail ""So vigorous and confident and sure-footed...so compelling, that Self's education does end up being part of the reader's. Like all good educations, it is hard to forget, once absorbed." --" Toronto Star" "Engaging...There's some real insight here....Self is filled with things that sound a lot like the truth...now and again you encounter things that read so true, the sound they make resonates for hours, or even days. Self is still ringing in my ears." -- "Hour Magazine" "Mesmerizing...Linguistic treats dance across the page, and the subject -- a young person's life -- careens between the remarkably realistic and the wildly imaginative.... Martel is a gifted writer: his language saunters and soars.... Martel addresses important issues anddoes so creatively and seriously. He deserves to be read." --" Calgary Herald"

Book Description

Self by Yann Martel - the acclaimed author of Life of Pi - is the fictional autobiography of a young writer; edgy, funny and devastating, with a startling twist at its very heart . . .

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on 14 July 2003
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
I loved Life of Pi, and I am reading Beatrice & Virgil.

I am a Yann Martel admirer (I was at his recent book signing), but Self was so painful I gave up halfway.

It was self-indulgent dribble. Just painful. I guess the title should have been a warning...
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Format: Paperback
I read this and Martel's other early book (The Facts Behind The Helsinki Rocclamtios - might have mispelt that!) years ago.

I won't say I enjoyed all of Self as I found it unsettling and then deeply upsetting. It was well worth reading because of that, but I wouldn't recommend it if you like satisfying stories with a clear structure.

His later book, Beatrice &Virgil, is an easier read that still shows his knack for unsettling story telling.

Warning: despite having bought Life of Pi in hardcover on publication, I have never managed to finish it in several attempts. I suspect that if you loved that, going back to Self is not a great idea.
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