Beatrice and Virgil

Yan Martel, Beatrice and Virgil

This slim novel is a highly-unusual contribution to Holocaust literature.  It is a fictional biography of Henry, a once-successful author who becomes fascinated with a taxidermist and his shop packed with expertly mounted animals.  The Holocaust theme is initially explored through a dialogue between two stuffed animals – a donkey called Beatrice and a monkey called Virgil, who represent the lives and suffering of victims.  To say too much more might risk spoiling a gripping read: it’s a novel, but one that offers a controversial and disturbing new approach to an overwhelmingly painful real subject and its aftermath.