Review: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
After reading this book, I felt overwhelmingly happy. What an unbelievably story?!
Yann Martel mentions in his authors note that he had already written a book with very little success. No one read it and he didn't make any money from it. During his travels in India, he heard of a man who could tell him a story that would make him believe in God. Life if Pi, is this story. Chapters occasionally alternate between the authors notes and the unlikely tale. The book is split into three parts. Part one, set in Pondicherry, India. Part two, set in the Pacific ocean and part three, set in Mexico. The first part - in my opinion - could easily have not been included. It is 100 pages that lead up to a fascinating story that didn't end up being relevant. I was hopeful that the initial section would loop back around for some sort of meaning as the book continued, but this was not the case. There are small moments in part one that are very beautifully written and provoked a lot of thought over the past few days that I have been making my way through this book. Pi has a broad mind and does not wish to follow one God. Raised as a Hindu, he decides to follow Hinduism as well as Christianity and Islam. I was fortunate in many ways, as I knew the vague story line due to the books infamy. However, anyone that doesn't, would maybe give up on this book before it truly gets a chance to begin (depending on their preference of reading topics). If you are planning on reading this, push through part one, and I assure you, it will be worth the wait!
We follow Piscine (Pi) Patel, the son of a zookeeper in India. They pack up their animals and cross the ocean in an enormous cargo ship, headed for Canada in hopes of selling their animals for a high price and relocating. Following a shipwreck, Pi finds himself stranded on a lifeboat with a fully grown Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Their survival story is full of magic and unexpected wonder. There is a real sense of desperation in their survival. But the story never fails to be touching when there are many mentions of small things that make both Pi and Richard Parker happy and enlightened. There is a strange connection between the two; in many ways they are unequaled, one being a tiger and one a young boy. However they become allies, and depend on one another. They are connected through their mutual experience and desire to survive but there is a constant struggle between the two to exert dominance over the other.
The book is well written and poignant. It blurs a line between fiction and non-fiction; the authors note immediately setting up a reader to believe this is a memoir, and the final section of the book written in an interview format (another commonly used writing style used in non-fiction); it has you constantly thinking, 'did this really happen?'
I would be interested to know as to whether following the publication of Life of Pi, explorers and those with a curious disposition set out on adventure to find some of the miraculous wonders that are described in this book of carnivorous islands that change salt water to fresh water and have herds of millions of meerkats. I would certainly like to think so.
Initial Prediction: 4 stars
Final Rating: 4 stars
Publication Date: 11 September 2001 (my edition: 9 May 2002)
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Genres: Fiction, Adventure
# of Pages: 319