FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 22, 2002
Trent University alumnus Yann Martel prevailed over six distinguished finalists and has won the prestigious Man Booker Prize.
Announced yesterday in London, England, the Booker Prize was awarded to Mr. Martel for his novel, Life of Pi, the story of a young man who finds himself stranded in a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra, and a Bengal tiger. Among the other contenders for the coveted literary prize were Rohinton Mistry’s Family Matters and Carol Shields’ latest work, Unless.
A student at Trent University during the 1980s, Yann Martel graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy in 1985. Dr. Constantin Boundas was one of his Philosophy professors and recalls Mr. Martel’s voracious appetite for debate. "He was a young man of strong beliefs and he was not unwilling to share them with his fellow students," said Prof. Boundas. "As a result, he generated robust discussion in class." Prof. Boundas also recalls that Mr. Martel expressed a fervent desire to write. "He was ripe to write," said Prof. Boundas. "He was more in tune with his talents and abilities than most of us."
Trent University President Bonnie Patterson expressed her delight at the news on behalf of the University community. "My most sincere congratulations go out to Yann Martel for this most momentous achievement," she said. "When Trent alum meet with such extraordinary success, the entire Trent community beams with pride. Faculty have noted that Mr. Martel was an intelligent and contemplative student who was a catalyst for lively debate in our small-group setting. I like to think that his educational experience, and in particular those opportunities he had here to enter into in-depth discussions, fed his work. We are grateful that the honour he has received reflects well on Trent University internationally."
The Man Booker Prize is one of the pre-eminent literary prizes worldwide. Previous winners include Salman Rushdie, Michael Ondaatje, and Margaret Atwood. Ms. Atwood commented in the Sunday Times that Life of Pi is not just a readable and engaging novel, it’s a finely twisted length of yarn, a boys’ adventure for grownups." The Man Booker Prize comes with a cash award of $120,000 (Cdn) and Mr. Martel can expect to see a increase in sales and recognition worldwide.
Mr. Martel currently lives in Montreal and divides his time between writing, yoga, and volunteer work at a care unit.