YANN MARTEL'S NEW book isn't, strictly, a new book. Nor, strictly, was Self the new book before that. In fact, his most recent book is Life of Pi. But, in the way of these things, you can be sure that if you are a Canadian unknown, published by a smallish firm in Scotland, and you win the Booker Prize and global love and admiration, two things are going to happen. The first is that you are going to be so busy promoting Life of Pi and fielding global love and admiration that you're going to find it hard to settle down to work on your next book. The second is that anyone with rights to your work is going to set about filling the gap by republishing your neglected backlist, in reverse order, as fast as ever they can.
And that is where we stand. Last year, Faber republished Martel's first novel, Self Now it's Canongate's turn, with the short-story collection that preceded it - first published by Faber a decade ago. Little noticed they may have been at the time, but the four stories here, which Martel describes