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.

For more background on the novel, read Alden Mudge's interview with Martel in BookPage, a review of the book or a blog post from our What We're Reading Wednesday series.

Warning: There are spoilers in the podcast, so listen at your own risk!

Part 1: Interpreting Beatrice & Virgil

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?

Part 2: Life after 'Pi'

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?

Part 3: Pears, publishing and pedantry

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?

Part 4: Final assessment of the book

Is Beatrice and Virgil a "successful" novel?

How did you react to Beatrice and Virgil? Tell us in the comments.

comments powered by Disqus