More than just an author

by Ahalya on September 28, 2010

Sometimes authors do more than just write books. Isaac Asimov was a professor of biochemistry, Graham Greene was a spy, Daniel Defoe ran a brick factory…

And Yann Martel sends one exceptionally good book every second Monday to the Prime Minister Stephen Harper ‘to make suggestions to his stillness’ . I found this endeavour so fascinating that I must write about it. I hope I have your attention.JGW-2010

One day in 2007 Yann Martel and 49 other artists from across Canada gathered at the House of Commons. They were invited to ‘help celebrate the fifty years of the Canada Council for the Arts’. only 25 of the 306 members of parliament turned up. The artists waited for two hours while the ministers went about their business. What happened next? Here’s Martel:

“The Honourable Bev Oda, Minister for Canadian Heritage, whose seat on the government benches is as far away from the Prime Minister’s as is possible for a member of the cabinet, rose to her feet, acknowledged our presence and began to speak. We stood up, not for ourselves but for the Canada Council. Her speech was short. There was a flutter of applause. Then Minister Oda sat down, our business was over, MPs instantly turned to other things, and we were still standing. That was it. Fifty years of building Canada’s dazzling and varied culture, done with in less than five minutes.”

The Prime Minister was preoccupied through that address, and Martel decided that someone as important and as busy as the Prime Minister must have moments of stillness. And therefore he decided to send books to Stephen Harper, ‘to expand that stillness’. 90 books so far. Not a single reply from the PM himself.

Tell me, if you could send one (or many) book(s) to an influential politician/person, which book(s) would that be and why.

There’s another giveaway you could participate in today!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Vishal September 28, 2010 at 9:03 am

The Book of Mirdad


Deepika Mital September 28, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Recently read “In the Pond” by Ha Jin – Really wonderful story about the vagaries of human nature and how the real life hero with all his frailties and ego can actually triumph over a political system, that also Communist China! Maybe Kalmadi and gang would be the correct recipients for such a book – so that they don’t try the Indian citizen’s patience so much again.


MRS. FRANCES TELLIS September 28, 2010 at 3:24 pm

The one book that I would like to send to an influential (or not so influential) person is the biography of Sam Walton. I have read two versions and both of them have been rivetting. Why I have said ‘not so influential’ is that he started from scratch without a dime in his pocket and look where he is today. Really inspiring especially for a youngster with no capital.

For the ‘influential’ person, it could be a Biyani (Pantaloons) or Ambani (Reliance) who could probably further fill their coffers.


Priyanka Borpujari September 28, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I would give the ministers across the world to read ‘The One Straw Revolution’. It is about farming. Talks of how all you need is just a tiny patch of land to satiate your hunger, and that of your family. But guess those jerks wouldn’t get the point.

Would also recommend ‘Mister God This Is Anna’ to anyone who wants a little bit of love and a little bit of God in their lives.


admin September 29, 2010 at 9:51 am

Vishal! You have been a wonderful, loyal reader! I am glad to report that this year as well has chosen you as a winner! Yayyyyy! Email on its way!


Vishal Devgon September 29, 2010 at 10:50 am

i knew it…
thanks …


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