The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios and Other Stories


232 pages
ISBN 0-394-22732-8
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Susan Patrick

Susan Patrick is a librarian at Ryerson University.


Yann Martel’s writing is powerful and moving, but often disturbing.
The title story (which won the 1991 Journey Prize) in the collection
describes a slow death by AIDS, with graphic details of the gradual
wasting away and decaying of the body, combined with the parallel
emotional reactions of the dying man’s best friend. The direct,
straightforward writing style and use of the first person combine to
make the impact all the more devastating. Death, decay, and
disappointment are themes that run through these stories, but they are
seen from the perspective of youth—normally a view of the world where
the future holds promise and all things seem possible. Martel’s
characters know that this is not always so, yet despite this, the
optimism of youth still shines through the writing.


Martel, Yann., “The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios and Other Stories,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 13, 2024,