The Globe and Mail calls this year’s One Book One Milton selection, The High Mountains of Portugal, “gleefully bizarre and genuinely thrilling”.
The High Mountains of Portugal is a suspenseful, mesmerizing story of a great quest for meaning, told in three intersecting narratives touching the lives of three different people and their families, and taking us on an extraordinary journey through the last century. We begin in the early 1900s, when Tomás discovers an ancient journal and sets out from Lisbon in one of the very first motor cars in Portugal in search of the strange treasure the journal describes. Thirty-five years later, a pathologist devoted to the novels of Agatha Christie, whose wife has possibly been murdered, finds himself drawn into the consequences of Tomás's quest. Fifty years later, Senator Peter Tovy of Ottawa, grieving the death of his own beloved wife, rescues a chimpanzee from an Oklahoma research facility and takes it to live with him in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, where the strands of all three stories miraculously mesh together.
Beautiful, witty and engaging, Yann Martel's new novel offers us the same tender exploration of the impact and significance of great love and great loss, belief and unbelief, that has marked all his brilliant, unexpected novels.
Yann Martel's The High Mountains of Portugal has won the Canadian author two awards in the 2017 Saskatchewan Book Awards including the Regina Public Library Book of the Year Award and the City of Saskatoon and Public Library Saskatoon Book Award. It was also shortlisted for the Muslims for Peace and Justice Fiction Award.
"I took away indelible images from High Mountains, enchanting and disturbing at the same time... . As whimsical as Martel’s magic realism can be, grief informs every step of the book’s three journeys. In the course of the novel we burrow ever further into the heart of an ape, pure and threatening at once, our precursor, ourselves." — NPR
"Refreshing, surprising and filled with sparkling moments of humor and insight." — The Dallas Morning News
"We’re fortunate to have brilliant writers using their fiction to meditate on a paradox we need urgently to consider—the unbridgeable gap and the unbreakable bond between human and animal, our impossible self-alienation from our world." — Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian