(From The Irish Times)
Yann Martel says he doesn't like exoticism in fiction and finds weirdness fatiguing. Which is pretty weird, given that he has just won the Man Booker Prize with a story about a Hindu Christian Muslim boy who spends nearly a year on a lifeboat in the Pacific with a Bengal tiger. Yet his attitude is probably the reason why his novel, Life of Pi - a playful, thought-provoking amalgam of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Old Man and the Sea and The Jungle Book - works so well.
'My narrator isn't weird,' insists Martel. 'He's an ordinary boy, simple and approachable. I like normality that suffers trial.' And anyway, if you spend long enough with someone, exoticism wears off. 'Everyone's the same, but they express their sameness in different ways.'
Martel has had lots of practice seeing through foreignness. His parents were Canadian diplomats, and he caught the …