The High Mountains of Portugal
by Yann Martel

Overview - NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - "Fifteen years after The Life of Pi, Yann Martel is taking us on another long journey. Fans of his Man Booker Prize-winning novel will recognize familiar themes from that seafaring phenomenon, but the itinerary in this imaginative new book is entirely fresh.  Read more...

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More About The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - "Fifteen years after The Life of Pi, Yann Martel is taking us on another long journey. Fans of his Man Booker Prize-winning novel will recognize familiar themes from that seafaring phenomenon, but the itinerary in this imaginative new book is entirely fresh. . . . Martel's writing has never been more charming."--Ron Charles, The Washington Post


In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tom s discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that--if he can find it--would redefine history. Traveling in one of Europe's earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure.

Thirty-five years later, a Portuguese pathologist devoted to the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie finds himself at the center of a mystery of his own and drawn into the consequences of Tom s's quest.

Fifty years on, a Canadian senator takes refuge in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, grieving the loss of his beloved wife. But he arrives with an unusual companion: a chimpanzee. And there the century-old quest will come to an unexpected conclusion.

The High Mountains of Portugal--part quest, part ghost story, part contemporary fable--offers a haunting exploration of great love and great loss. Filled with tenderness, humor, and endless surprise, it takes the reader on a road trip through Portugal in the last century--and through the human soul.

Praise for The High Mountains of Portugal

"Just as ambitious, just as clever, just as existential and spiritual as Life of Pi] . . . a book that rewards your attention . . . an excellent book club choice."--San Francisco Chronicle

"There's no denying the simple pleasures to be had in The High Mountains of Portugal."--Chicago Tribune

"Charming . . . Most Martellian is the boundless capacity for parable. . . . Martel knows his strengths: passages about the chimpanzee and his owner brim irresistibly with affection and attentiveness."--The New Yorker

"A rich and rewarding experience . . . Martel] spins his magic thread of hope and despair, comedy and pathos."--USA Today

"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

" Martel packs] his inventive novel with beguiling ideas. What connects an inept curator to a haunted pathologist to a smitten politician across more than seventy-five years is the author's ability to conjure up something uncanny at the end."--The Boston Globe

"A fine home, and story, in which to find oneself."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • ISBN-13: 9780812987034
  • ISBN-10: 0812987039
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
  • Publish Date: November 2016
  • Page Count: 368
  • Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.5 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Visionary & Metaphysical
Books > Fiction > Historical - General
Books > Fiction > Literary

BookPage Reviews

Book Clubs: Domestic quandries

In her uproarious collection of stories, American Housewife, Helen Ellis skewers traditional notions of domestic bliss—and has loads of fun along the way. The leading lady in “Dead Doormen” is at first glance an expert housekeeper and loving partner, but the life she shares with her husband in their Manhattan penthouse turns out to be decidedly disturbing. When the two female neighbors in “The Wainscoting War”—a story that’s presented as a series of increasingly heated (and hilarious) emails—fail to agree on how to decorate the shared hallway in their apartment building, they go head to head in a territorial showdown. In the all too timely “Dumpster Diving with the Stars,” a writer, an ex-Playboy playmate and a pair of Scientology actors come together on a reality TV show. Fiction fans will recognize the book’s cast of characters—the jealous wife, the uppity neighbor—but thanks to Ellis’ gift for black humor, the females in this smart, provocative collection transcend type.

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien is an electrifying novel about a quiet Irish town that’s infiltrated by evil. Dr. Vladimir Dragan, a good-looking, sophisticated writer and healer, wakes up the sleepy village of Cloonoila when he arrives in the middle of winter. Local beauty Fidelma McBride is drawn to him, betraying her marriage as a result. But the town’s favorable perception of the doctor is destroyed when he’s arrested and his true identity as a Bosnian war criminal is brought to light. The doctor’s dark past horrifies everyone in the village, especially Fidelma, who suffers violence at the hands of his associates. Fidelma eventually moves beyond this bleak chapter in her life, escaping to London to work in a homeless shelter. O’Brien’s tense, politically charged novel—her first in a decade—was inspired by the real-life case of Radovan Karadži´c, the Serb leader who was tracked down and convicted of war crimes after many years in hiding. O’Brien’s portrayal of a quiet village forever altered by a mysterious newcomer haunts the reader long after the last page is turned.

Life of Pi author Yann Martel returns with The High Mountains of Portugal, a suspenseful work composed of three interconnected stories. Tomás, a young man in Lisbon in the early 1900s, finds a journal referencing a remarkable object that has the potential to transform the world. Determined to find it, he sets out on an adventure that has far-reaching effects. The narrative moves forward to the 1930s and the story of Eusebio, a Portuguese physician who becomes enmeshed in a mystery connected to Tomás’ search. Five decades later, the novel reaches its finale, as Peter, a politician mourning his dead wife, arrives at his native village in Portugal, where the threads of the story come together. From the three plots, Martel creates an unforgettable portrait of Portugal across varying eras. Mixing history and suspense into a tale defined by human longing, he delivers a work that’s richly rewarding.


This article was originally published in the December 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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