Yann Martel and Stephen Harper

I’ve been reading up in the news lately about Yann Martel (author of “Life of Pi”) and his new project: he sends out a book to Harper (for those not familiar with the name, Harper is the prime minister of Canada) along with a letter which acts as a sort of reading guide. I must say, it intrigued me. However, if I was Harper, I’m not sure I’d know what to think. I doubt he’d actually read all of those books – the man must be much too busy! …which is precisely why Martel has launched this project – he has decided that Harper is a busy man, giving off the appearance of one who has no time for leisure reading, thus he has taken it upon himself to guide Harper’s reading journey.

Do you think it’s a thoughtful gesture? Or a bit presumptuous?

I will be most interested when Harper himself takes a few minutes to reply to one of Martel’s bi-weekly letters. As of yet, the only replies sent out are brief official ones from his aides and assistants to confirm receipt of the books.

On a similar note, I also wonder what Martel would list as some of his top favourite reads, and in turn which authors cite Martel as their literary influence.  The info on Wikipedia appears to be non-existent, and elsewhere online, it’s quite scant.  If you know of any names, head over here to add it to his page.

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5 Comments on “Yann Martel and Stephen Harper”

  1. Thomas Cox Says:

    That is a very interesting strategy and undoubtedly ensures that Martel is a prominent Canadian novelist. I don’t know what to expect from Martel, but then I’ve only read two of his books, each with their unique merits.

    I love finding out what books/movies my favourite authors/screenwriters enjoy. It shouldn’t really matter, but it does somehow…

  2. Rosie Says:

    How interesting! Thanks for letting us know!

    My parents did something like it for the Youth Hostelling Association’s recent anniversary – they sent a book to every English Youth Hostel (as a thanks for all the family holidays we’ve had, to replenish their often depleted bookshelves with a book the whole family loved). By the end, the whole family was superb not only at packaging them but also at sticking on labels!

    Rosie of BooksAndBakes

  3. infloox Says:

    wow, that’s such a nice gesture!! 🙂 It’s rare to hear of stuff like that. btw, i love your blog – combines two of my favourite things!!

  4. lisamm Says:

    I’m not sure what I think of that but I’m leaning towards ‘presumptuous’. As a book blogger I feel I’m under no obligation to read unsolicited books. I’m sure as a prime minister he feels even less of an obligation! People probably send him stuff all the time, although perhaps not someone as prominent as Martel. Sounds like a publicity stunt to me.

    • infloox Says:

      I personally thought similarly when I heard about this. Who’s to say that Harper isn’t, in fact, a regular reader on his own without the guidance of Martel or someone else? I think I’d also approach said books a bit negatively in attitude if I had letters accompanying them, telling me how to read the books, or the significance of them. Half the fun of it is exploring them on your own and assessing them yourself before discussing with others. But like you said, it has definitely garnered plenty of publicity for Martel, so perhaps he is doing something right! 🙂


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