Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi, writes in the introduction to 101 Letters to a Prime Minister: “This is a book about books.”
From April 2007 to February 2011, Martel wrote 101 letters to the office of the Prime Minister. The letters described literature Yartel believes essential to a well-rounded intellect—as the leader of Canada should be—as well as a copy of each book.
In total, he received seven replies.
The first came right away. The next four came two years later. Two other authors, who helped Martel when he was unable to select a book and write a letter, received one reply each. Not one of these letters came from Harper.
Martel imagined several versions of replies he could have received, varying from haughty to sly, to practically, brutally and openly honest.
Some recommendations are books everyone has had a chance to read by the end of high school: To Kill a Mockingbird, Le Petit Prince, and Charlotte’s Web. Others include Greek poetry and Russian classics. From Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis to Waiting for Godot, Martel’s book club is all-inclusive. It covers poetry, children’s books, graphic novels, plays, religious texts and literature to challenge the mind. He writes in the introduction:
“As long as someone has no power over me, I don’t care what they read, or if they read at all. It’s not for me to judge how people live their lives. But once someone has power over me, then, yes, their reading does matter to me, because in what they choose to read will be found what they think and what they might do. Once someone has power over me, as Stephen Harper does, it’s in my interest to know the nature and quality of his imagination, because his dreams may become my nightmares.”