The High Mountains of Portugal
By Yan Martel
Spiegel & Grau, 2016. 332 pgs. Fiction
For readers who helped make The Life of Pi an international best-seller, this new work by writer Yan Martel is long overdue and, hopefully, well worth the wait. While I liked The Life of Pi, I actually enjoyed The High Mountains of Portugal quite a bit more. Spanning several generations, this is a contemporary fable, that shines a light on grief, love, and what it means to be human.
It begins with the quest of Tomas who leaves Lisbon and travels in an early model automobile to the high mountains of Portugal to find an important religious artifact. His quest sets off a series of events that ripple through the years until a Canadian senator, escaping his busy life, returns to the town of his parents’ birth with a his newly acquired chimpanzee.
As with The Life of Pi, few things are what they seem in this sometimes grim and sometimes whimsical tale. My favorite part was an unexpected lecture on the miracles of Christ that I still can’t quit thinking about. The High Mountains of Portugal is a charming and thought provoking novel that I hope finds a wide audience.