So Yann Martel's new novel Beatrice & Virgil is out and drawing very polarized reviews! People either love it or hate it and are quite passionate either way. Some of the negative reviews have focused on how Martel deals with the Holocaust in his novel. I think they may be missing the point. I'm in the "love it" camp, mostly because I think he was very successful in illustrating just how difficult it is to write about such a horror. And the novel actively forces the reader to question how this could be done - if at all. Yes, it will make you uneasy; good writing often does that. But for precisely these reasons, I think it makes a terrific book club pick, and also a good YA crossover book for teens who have read Markus Zusak's The Book Thief or John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
The great independent bookstore Powell's has posted a Q & A with Yann Martel - of particular interest is Yann's own recommended list of five great books dealing with the Holocaust.