After hearing a huge range of critical reactions to Yann Martel’s Beatrice and Virgil, BookPage editors Trisha, Abby, Kate and I decided to read the book for ourselves and discuss it in our first-ever BookPage podcast.
Briefly, Beatrice and Virgil is about Henry, a novelist whose life parallels Martel’s. Henry comes to know a taxidermist—also named Henry—who is writing a play. The play stars Beatrice and Virgil, a donkey and a howler monkey, and Henry (the novelist) comes to see their story as an allegory for the Holocaust.
Warning: There are spoilers in the podcast, so listen at your own risk!
Should we interpret Beatrice and Virgil as an allegory—and if so, what does it mean? How should we react to the “Games for Gustav” in the final section?
Will Life of Pi fans be disappointed with this novel? Why has critical response from major review outlets and book blogs been so varied? Will Beatrice and Virgil become a favorite for book clubs?
Why has the famous pear scene so captured the hearts of readers? Does Martel manage to represent the Holocaust in an innovative way? What does Beatrice and Virgil teach us about content vs. sales potential, in the eyes of a publisher?
Is Beatrice and Virgil a “successful” novel?
How did you react to Beatrice and Virgil? Tell us in the comments.