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Life of Pi Paperback – Black & White, May 1, 2003
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From The New Yorker
An impassioned defense of zoos, a death-defying trans-Pacific sea adventure à la "Kon-Tiki," and a hilarious shaggy-dog story starring a four-hundred-and-fifty-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker: this audacious novel manages to be all of these as it tells the improbable survivor's tale of Pi Patel, a young Indian fellow named for a swimming pool (his full first name is Piscine) who endures seven months in a lifeboat with only a hungry, outsized feline for company. This breezily aphoristic, unapologetically twee saga of man and cat is a convincing hands-on, how-to guide for dealing with what Pi calls, with typically understated brio, "major lifeboat pests."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
"Life of Pi could renew your faith in the ability of novelists to invest even the most outrageous scenario with plausible life."— The New York Times Book Review
"A story to make you believe in the soul-sustaining power of fiction."— Los Angeles Times Book Review
"A gripping adventure story . . . Laced with wit, spiced with terror, it's a book by an extraordinary talent."— St. Paul Pioneer-Press
"A terrific book . . . Fresh, original, smart, devious, and crammed with absorbing lore."— Margaret Atwood
"An impassioned defense of zoos, a death-defying trans-Pacific sea adventure a la Kon-Tiki, and a hilarious shaggy-dog story . . . : This audacious novel manages to be all of these." — The New Yorker
"Readers familiar with Margaret Atwood, Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje and Carol Shields should learn to make room on the map of contemporary Canadian fiction for the formidable Yann Martel." — Chicago Tribune
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Yann Martell manages to tell the same man vs. nature themed story in a completely new fashion, loaded with questions about life and death, beliefs, family and spirituality. Survival stories remind us not only that life is worth living but that we can cling to the desire to live as long as we can find a reason to keep fighting, what if the reason to stay alive is life itself? Pi shows us that sometimes it is when we lose everything that we might find ourselves.
I’m hesitant to define this tale as a religious one yet it is deeply spiritual. Pi has a great heart and his soul (his mind, if you rather) craves for knowledge, both physical which is made clear by his interest in zoology and metaphysical which leads him to approach religion. Aristotle said that “All men by nature desire to know” and Pi’s desire to know is nothing else that this natural desire common to all humankind.
I believe that what makes Pi different from other boys (and men) is the fact that he is able to realise that both the physical and metaphysical knowledge are rooted in a common true. The spiritual search of Pi is not the search of someone trying to find a messiah, nor of someone looking for a new lifestyle; it is a pursue of a higher truth. That’s the reason why he can be a pious Hindu. And Muslim. And Catholic. Because he understands that both three religions convey a true message. “I told her that in fact she was not so wrong; that Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat-wearing Muslims”.
Martell gives you a novel with a powerful insight of a very smart and pious boy who clings to life while coexisting with a tiger in the middle of the sea. The words are overwhelming by the deep meaning they convey and at the same time beautifully used to describe an imposing scenario.
This is a book totally worth reading, I totally enjoyed it from beginning to end, loved the characters, yes, it might be a little slow at first and the time spent in the sea to long, but it’s definitely worth it.
Life of Pi takes place in 1970's India where we get the story of Pi growing up in a zoo. The book continues with Pi ending in a shipwreck and having to share a lifeboat with a tiger.
The way Martel tells the story is very interesting. There's the parallel story of Martel himself going to visit an older Pi who tells the story that we are now reading. There's the occasional zoology lesson interspersed and an examination of faith. All this combined with the brutality of surviving in the Pacific Ocean. All of this is told through Pi, through Martel, through Pi which makes it quite a third hand telling.
The ending is however genius as it completely flips the story on its head and you might have a revelation from it.
Overall a great read, and be sure to catch the movie as well!
However, I wanted to add a warning. The second half of the book is very gruesome and can get a bit tedious with details, sometimes VERY GRUESOME and TEDIOUS with details! It is only the second book I have ever read that I prefer the movie to the book. It has the "heart" of the book without showing all the gore.
That said, I DO recommend the book. I sobbed, smiled and more. Just not for everyone. You'll definitely remember it awhile after reading.