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Yann Martel was surprised to open his mail one day and read a letter from a famous fan who enjoyed his novel Life of Pi. (For the record, at the end of the novel, the author asks readers whether they prefer his book with or without animals — a tiger named Richard Parker is one of the main characters.)

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(In case you can’t read the handwriting, here is the textMr. Martel, My daughter and I just finished reading LIFE OF PI together. Both of us agreed we prefer the story with animals. It is a lovely book — an elegant proof of God and the power of storytelling. Thank you. Barack Obama)