The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Revised and with a new author’s note and cover, here is Man Booker Prize–winning author Yann Martel’s debut.

First published in 1993, this remarkable collection of four stories launched the career of a masterful writer. In the exquisite title novella, a young man dying of AIDS joins his friend in fashioning a story of the Roccamatio family of Helsinki, set against the yearly march of the twentieth century, whose horrors and miracles their story echoes. In “The Time I Heard the Private Donald J. Rankin String Concerto with One Discordant Violin, by the American Composer John Morton,” a Canadian university student visits Washington, DC and experiences the Vietnam War and its aftermath through an intense musical encounter. “Manners of Dying” has variations of a warden’s letter to the mother of a son he has just executed, revealing how each life is contained in its end. Finally, in “The Vita Aeterna Mirror Company,”
a young man discovers a strange contraption in his grandmother’s basement. As the machine runs, she reflects upon her beloved husband.


The Facts behind the Helsinki Roccamatios

I hadn’t known Paul for very long. We met in the fall of 1986 at Ellis University, in Roetown, just east of Toronto. I had taken time off and worked and travelled to India: I was twenty-three and in my last year. Paul had just turned nineteen and was entering...
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“Let me tell you a secret: the name of the greatest living writer of the generation born in the Sixties is Yann Martel.”

“A small masterpiece … a serious and convincing work that demands to be read.”
The Guardian (UK)

“Martel’s first book arrives with literary bells ringing … the title story is among the most highly praised in recent memory.”
The Gazette (Montreal)

“This is one of those rare debuts that raises real hope and shows a principled talent excitingly capable of further growth.”
The Observer (UK)

“Yann Martel’s brilliant storytelling...shines brightly.”
The Globe and Mail

“Those who would believe that the art of fiction is moribund — let them read Yann Martel with astonishment, delight and gratitude.”
—Alberto Manguel