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Not all acts of faith are bad: Yann Martel

The author of Life of Pi engaged his audience with stories from his life

By Chandreyee Ghose in Calcutta

  • Published 25.01.19, 9:31 PM
  • Updated 25.01.19, 9:31 PM
Yann Martel at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet on Thursday.
Yann Martel at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet on Thursday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

A Canadian writer sent the country’s then prime minister, Stephen Harper (2006-2015), 102 books, along with letters urging him to read, over four years.

The letters went on to make yet another book — 101 Letters to a Prime Minister.

Yann Martel, the author of Life of Pi, engaged his audience with stories from his life at the Tata Steel Junior Kolkata Literary Meet, in association with The Telegraph and the Victoria Memorial Hall and curated by ThinkArts, on Thursday.

“If you don’t read and travel how do you get information? Books introduce you to a new world and open your mind. Travel is also like reading…,” said the Man Booker Prize winner as he peppered the conversation with anecdotes from his travels in India.

“India stimulated and dazzled me....Everything intrigued me. The country also helped me regain the balance between logic and religion. Not all acts of faith are bad. Some transform lives too,” said the author recalling his back-packing days in Delhi, Mumbai and other places.

The audience mostly comprised schoolchildren, for whom Martel had some advice. “Read anything and everything. Read the classics, read the trash and those in between. Find out what makes a book worthy or bad. Write for the sake of writing. If you want to be readable and publishable know the rules. When you are good enough you can break them.”

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