Yann Martel: Reaction & Interview

yann1.jpgAlthough Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn't directly respond to Yann Martel's book-mailing campaign, it seems Day 6 listeners had plenty to say.

(Life of Pi author Yann Martel last week ended his project to send the PM a new book and accompanying letter every two weeks.  Day 6 interviewed him about it.  We've reposted the interview below).


Our inbox received a mittfull of opinion, like this coy one from Sean Kelly in Calgary:


"Poor Yann - he tried to friend the Prime Minister with his version of Face"Book" and was ignored."


Terry Beaune in Petawawa, Ontario, was less kind with his thoughts:


"The unmitigated gall to think that HE, being such a scholar, should be the person to guide the Prime Minister in respect to his free time.  Does he really believe that the Prime Minister has never read a good book.  PLEASE!  . . . I, myself, if put in a similar position would just ignore Mr. Martel.  That's exactly what I plan to do in the future."


But it's Oliver Moore from Ottawa that provided the most thoughtful reaction to our interview:


"I imagine myself in the Prime Minister's shoes, receiving smug, condescending letters, addressed to me but really designed to score a few cheap pseudo-political points among those citizens who fetishize intellectualism more than they live it. The dignity of my public office alone would restrain me from writing Mr Martel a nasty letter of reproach: the upshot being that Mr Harper's silence in the face of Mr Martel's barrage of smugness is not only understandable, but necessary.

"I have no doubt that the day on which Mr Martel chooses to engage in honest political commentary relevant to the operations and choices of our federal government will also be the day that Mr Harper chooses to acknowledge him as a worthy interlocutor."

The conversation continued on our Twitter feed.


Darlene Cameron (@Camerond) did the Twitter version of an eye-roll: "With that list of books, did your guest think the PM would take the book club serious & reply? I'm sure it gave him a chuckle!"


Jim Armour (@ArmourJim) said "[Yann Martel's] campaign was based on the idea that conservatives spell culture with a "k" and need education."


Jonathan Robson (@Robsonian) was more positive, hoping that "Yann keeps the blog up indefinitely. [He's] been using it as a reading list for years..."


A twitter user calling themselves "The Imp" (@theimp) sympathised with the Life of Pi author:  Yann Martel sent 100 books to Harper. Our PM-barrassment never responded. Obama wrote. - How typical! - Martel finally gives up.


(Sidebar: Yann Martel was surprised to received a handwritten letter from US President Barack Obama.  You can see the note here.)

Carol McGimpsey (@Hedgehogfriend) tried an analogy to explain the PM's non-engagement: Not engaging the Jehovah's Witness at the door doesn't mean you're not religious. Maybe the PM has his own taste in books.


But Sarah Papple Csekey (@sarahapple) disagreed with that analysis: Come on! If they knocked every week for 4 yrs? Indicates *at least* a lack of humour.  The interview began with Brent remarking that Yann was, officially... done: 


If you missed the original interview, you can hear it right here:

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Catch Yann Martel reading some of his last letter to Harper here:

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Or catch the entire episode, including our interview with US congressman and sometime presidential candidate Ron Paul at this link here.


And, remember, you can always catch our program by downloading the podcast (click the magic button): Day 6 from CBC Radio 


What do you think of Yann Martel's book project?  Add your own comments to the section below.

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