Letter from Barack Obama to Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi.
Martel’s response: The coolest thing happened to me last week. There was a stiff, mid-size envelope in my mailbox. I don’t get as much mail as you do, but I do get my fair share (and I don’t have any staff to help me with it). So what was this, what request, what demand? I noted that it came from the US. I opened it. Between two pieces of cardboard, a smaller envelope slipped out. On the front, top left, was the return address: The White House, Washington, DC 20500. I was intrigued. Not The White House. I opened the envelope, and there it was, on White House letterhead, a handwritten note from President Obama. I do believe my heart skipped a beat. A week later I’m still gingerly taking the note out to marvel at it. The President of the United States wrote to me—to me! For sure I’m going to have the note framed. If there was a way of tattooing it on my back, I would. What amazes me is the gratuity of it. As you would know, there is a large measure of calculation in what public figures do. But here, what does he gain? I’m not a US citizen. In no way can I be of help to President Obama. Clearly he did it for personal reasons, as a reader and as a father. And in two lines, what an insightful analysis of Life of Pi. Bless him, bless him.