As Life of Pi makes its world premiere at the New York film festival Friday, Canadian author Yann Martel says he's happy with Ang Lee’s 3D interpretation of his novel.

Life of Pi opens the New York Film Festival, focusing attention on the Booker Prize-winning novel, long thought to be unfilmable.

"It's visually sumptuous. It's a very intelligent movie," Martel told CBC News ahead of the screening.

"It's visually extraordinary. The 3D element is not cheap — it's done very intelligently to bring out the elements. And the Indian element is much more important than I realized. I'm glad to see India on the screen, you so rarely see India on the screen."

Martel’s novel follows a boy marooned on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger and combines a menagerie of animals with several layers of metaphor. The 2002 novel was translated into 38 languages and spent 57 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Martel’s most recent novel is 2010’s Beatrice and Virgil. 

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Yann Martel says calls the film 'visually sumptuous.' (Canadian Press)

Martel believes Taiwanese director Lee has done justice to his story.

"It's very faithful to the book, not only in what happens, but in what the book tries to do — try to say that reality is not a fixed thing, it's open to interpretation. That the movie does very well," he said.

"I certainly hope that Ang Lee and his team get the reward they deserve because they worked so hard on this. I'm certainly enjoying it, I'm sort of riding along on the coattails of the movie and I'll do that for a while," he added.

Lee has credits such as Lust, Caution, Brokeback Mountain and Sense and Sensibility and is a darling of the New York festival, having previously opened it in 1997 with The Ice Storm.

Life of Pi gets its commercial release Nov. 21.