Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Saturday, 31 October 2009

Pi author plans Holocaust novel

Life of Pi cover
Life of Pi is about a boy stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger

Author Yann Martel is to follow his Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi with another story focusing on animals.

Beatrice And Virgil, a literary allegory for the Holocaust, will be published around the world in June 2010 - eight years after Life of Pi.

It will ask "profound and philosophical questions about the nature of love and evil", said the publishers.

The Canadian author's winning novel is one of the most successful Booker books to date.

Canongate Managing Director Jamie Byng said: "I was stunned by Beatrice and Virgil and all of us at Canongate are enormously excited about taking this book to as many readers as we can."

The book tells the tale of a character called Henry who is drawn into the world of a taxidermist.

Henry becomes entangled in the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey - named Beatrice and Virgil - and the epic journey they undertake together.

His title characters take their names from The Divine Comedy - Virgil was Dante's guide through Hell and Beatrice through Heaven.

Yann Martel
Beatrice and Virgil will be Yann Martel's third novel

Mr Byng said: "Life of Pi was always going to be an extremely tricky book to follow up not least because of the expectations of Yann's many fans.

"Thankfully Yann has risen to the challenge by writing another exceptional novel, a wildly imaginative and multi-layered story that engrosses from the first page and leaves you asking questions long after you have turned the last."

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