Self by Yann MartelSelf by Yann Martel


byYann Martel

Paperback | April 29, 1997

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A modern-day Orlando -- edgy, funny and startlingly honest -- Self is the fictional autobiography of a young writer and traveller who finds his gender changed overnight.
Yann Martel was born in Spain in 1963 of peripatetic Canadian parents. He grew up in Alaska, British Columbia, Costa Rica, France, Ontario and Mexico, and has continued travelling as an adult, spending time in Iran, Turkey and India. After studying philosophy at Trent University and while doing various odd jobs -- tree planting, dishwa...
Title:SelfFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:352 pages, 7.96 × 5.13 × 0.69 inShipping dimensions:7.96 × 5.13 × 0.69 inPublished:April 29, 1997Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0394281772

ISBN - 13:9780394281773


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good for those who like abstract ideas I thought this book was interesting, but his manner of writing in this novel is quite abstract and not necessarily preferred by everyone. However, he is able to convey the character's thoughts and emotions as the story unfolds once you get the hang of how the novel flows.
Date published: 2017-11-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from BIZARRE AND ONLY HALF-FINISHED. "One should always be wary of metaphors, as the message, or argument, is usually only as strong as the image, But, shockingly, in this particular book Yann manages to make his images stronger than his message. A point which, in my opinion, is what kept this novel from being a good read." This says it perfectly in my mind. After reading "Pi" I couldn't wait to get my hands on ANYTHING else he had written. BIG, HUGE AND GIGANTIC mistake. Left me not only with a bad taste in my mouth, I think it also left me with genuinely bad breath. Beginning - GREAT, MORE, MORE! Middle and Ending - BAD, HORRIBLE, USELESS AND HOW MANY TREES WERE SACRIFICED FOR THIS PATHETIC ATTEMPT AT WHAT? Don't ask Yann: he'd be the last to know. The ending ended NOTHING: I was taught, way back when, that stories should have a beginning, a middle and an ending. This, I refuse to call it a novel, begins beautifully and you get sucked into buying the thing. A quarter of the way through it takes a violent twist into the twilight zone, which is usually OK when in the hands of a master, but Martell is NO master in this case and it simply bleeds to death, slowly, you wishing you could cut your own wrists to die before the last page finally turns over. I will give his latest a try, "Beatrice and Virgil", but it's his last chance. As brilliant and evanescent as "The Life of Pi" was, I literally gave it to a dozen friends for Christmas, "Self" is merely 'self-indulgent' and not worth the paper it is spewed onto.
Date published: 2010-05-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from "Interesting, but deficient." "Self" is the first book I have read by Yann Martel, it was perhaps not the best introduction to his writing, but I do intend to read more of his books. He is a talented writer, but being able to craft a riveting story and writing beautiful prose are two different things. His writing style is unique and lovely to read, some of the images he crafts in "Self" will be forever linger in my memory, but not so much can be said about the story itself. For those who enjoy travel, languages, gender, and mild philosophy, this is an interesting read. I use the word "interesting", because I would not say this book is entirely an enjoyable read. Yann mainly delves into two concepts in this book, the first being the flow of time and how it interacts with memory. I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel, as it is well written, quirky, and a pleasure to read. The second concept focuses on the fluidity of gender, and he raises the question as to how much gender really impacts who we are. Most people do not realize that gender-- which does not actually have anything to do physical sex characteristics-- is a social construction, and Yann does a adequate job of portraying this. As much as I enjoyed some of Yann's ideas, he ended this book atrociously. It was rushed, over exaggerated, and left the reader wanting something much more. There was no resolution, no reason, just chaos. He abandoned many of the ideas he was developing, and instead concluded it with a poor assertion of who the character was: A thirty year old, five foot seven, brown haired Canadian. End of story... literally. One should always be wary of metaphors, as the message, or argument, is usually only as strong as the image, But, shockingly, in this particular book Yann manages to make his images stronger than his message. A point which, in my opinion, is what kept this novel from being a good read.
Date published: 2009-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Genuine story of human emotions! This book by Yann Martel is genuinely entertaining, in the most humanely possible way. I enjoyed the way the characters are discreetly developed - often in a hilariously vivid manner - with their stories and personalities all intertwined, creating a realistic cobweb of human emotions. It is a story of human experience all too familiar, especially beautiful and enticing in the way its concept knows no barrier of language, nor age, nor gender. It is in this sense that Martel adorns his simple story of human spirit and compassion with intricate details of love, anguish, wisdom, and personal growth. And so I recommend this story to anyone inspired by modern tales of culture, humanity, or life's daily moments. Enjoy, cheers.
Date published: 2006-07-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A must read Personally, I found that I enjoyed “Self” much better than “Life of Pi”. One day this man wakes up and is suddenly a woman. He goes through life without understanding why this transformation occurred. You really feel for the main character in this unusual journey of life.
Date published: 2006-07-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great read! If you like Yann Martel's style and aren't bothered by his strange twists, you'll love this one. It's touching, intriguing and funny all at once!
Date published: 2006-05-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great!! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It takes the reader through the full range of emotions and I often found msyelf laughing outloud and then a few chapters later shedding a tear for the main character. I definitely reccommend it.
Date published: 2006-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This book is definately for the open minded, but an excellent read. If you enjoy the way Yann Martel uses his words to illustrate his thoughts, you will love this book. At times the book is very sad, and others a warm calming sensation is felt by the reader. This book is about the struggle for happines, belonging and being loved. If you like an abstract twist on real issues we all face- pick up this book.
Date published: 2005-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Makes you think. This book is very mature. I recommend this book to be read with an open mind. It is interesting, yet very different from Life of Pi. Once I read the first chapter, I was hooked. You either love it or you hate it. I love it.
Date published: 2005-06-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not like life of Pi I enjoyed this book as much as the life of Pi but it is definetely a vastly different read. Self is a little bizarre and very affecting. At no point did I laugh like I did with Pi. And there are some very sad scenes in Self that I am still mourning. This is definetely not for everyone, and if you are looking for a light read, this is probably not the right book. However, if you like being affected by a book, don't mind some sexually descriptive passages and are open to reading about gender, sexuality and belonging, Self could be just what you are looking for. Not for everyone, for sure, but I sure did enjoy it!
Date published: 2004-08-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderfully made Wow, this novel was incredible. Martel's use of words is absolutely stunning and you really feel for the protagonist. It gets a little confusing when the main character switches genders... but the whole novel is put together so nicely and abstract. I loved it.
Date published: 2004-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not For Everyone... It's a challenging read. It takes a complete left turn from the normal structure of a novel, however, if you are up to the challenge, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. A lot of people dismissed this book when it was first published because of its unusual nature. I hope the publication of Life of Pi gets this book some more worthy notice.
Date published: 2003-06-02

From Our Editors

A delightful fictional autobiography with a twist, Self follows a young writer through the stages of personality and sexual development. In the tradition of Orlando, this narrator awakes one morning to find he is now a she. Shortlisted for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award, Self is a bold and brilliant romp through the permutations of love by Yann Martel.

Editorial Reviews

"Let me tell you a secret: The name of the greatest living writer of the generation born in the sixties is Yann Martel." -- L'Humanité"This is an exhilarating piece of fiction, as bold and original as anything I've read in a long time." -- Charles Foran, Montreal Gazette"A powerful story, punctuated by humour and tragedy in much the way real life is. -- Like Rohinton Mistry and Michael Ondaatje, Martel is a brilliant storyteller." -- Vancouver Sun"Superb -- Masterfully written. -- Martel has an almost otherworldly talent. -- He is a powerful writer and storyteller, almost a force of nature." -- Edmonton Journal"Yann Martel wonderfully represents the child's universe as a seamless whole...A penetrating, funny, original and absolutely delightful exploration.... [Martel] is a natural and often brilliant essayist and expositor, with a knack for aphorism and a rich cultural and literary foundation." -- Globe and Mail"So vigorous and confident and compelling, that Self's education does end up being part of the reader's. Like all good educations, it is hard to forget, once absorbed." -- Toronto Star"Engaging...There's some real insight here....Self is filled with things that sound a lot like the and again you encounter things that read so true, the sound they make resonates for hours, or even days. Self is still ringing in my ears." -- Hour Magazine"Mesmerizing...Linguistic treats dance across the page, and the subject -- a young person's life -- careens between the remarkably realistic and the wildly imaginative.... Martel is a gifted writer: his language saunters and soars.... Martel addresses important issues and does so creatively and seriously. He deserves to be read." -- Calgary Herald