- Paperback: 326 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books (May 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0156027321
- ISBN-13: 978-0156027328
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6,897 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Life of Pi Paperback – Black & White, May 1, 2003
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Yann Martel's imaginative and unforgettable Life of Pi is a magical reading experience, an endless blue expanse of storytelling about adventure, survival, and ultimately, faith. The precocious son of a zookeeper, 16-year-old Pi Patel is raised in Pondicherry, India, where he tries on various faiths for size, attracting "religions the way a dog attracts fleas." Planning a move to Canada, his father packs up the family and their menagerie and they hitch a ride on an enormous freighter. After a harrowing shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean, trapped on a 26-foot lifeboat with a wounded zebra, a spotted hyena, a seasick orangutan, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker ("His head was the size and color of the lifebuoy, with teeth"). It sounds like a colorful setup, but these wild beasts don't burst into song as if co-starring in an anthropomorphized Disney feature. After much gore and infighting, Pi and Richard Parker remain the boat's sole passengers, drifting for 227 days through shark-infested waters while fighting hunger, the elements, and an overactive imagination. In rich, hallucinatory passages, Pi recounts the harrowing journey as the days blur together, elegantly cataloging the endless passage of time and his struggles to survive: "It is pointless to say that this or that night was the worst of my life. I have so many bad nights to choose from that I've made none the champion."
An award winner in Canada, Life of Pi, Yann Martel's second novel, should prove to be a breakout book in the U.S. At one point in his journey, Pi recounts, "My greatest wish--other than salvation--was to have a book. A long book with a never-ending story. One that I could read again and again, with new eyes and fresh understanding each time." It's safe to say that the fabulous, fablelike Life of Pi is such a book. --Brad Thomas Parsons --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
A fabulous romp through an imagination by turns ecstatic, cunning, despairing and resilient, this novel is an impressive achievement "a story that will make you believe in God," as one character says. The peripatetic Pi (ne the much-taunted Piscine) Patel spends a beguiling boyhood in Pondicherry, India, as the son of a zookeeper. Growing up beside the wild beasts, Pi gathers an encyclopedic knowledge of the animal world. His curious mind also makes the leap from his native Hinduism to Christianity and Islam, all three of which he practices with joyous abandon. In his 16th year, Pi sets sail with his family and some of their menagerie to start a new life in Canada. Halfway to Midway Island, the ship sinks into the Pacific, leaving Pi stranded on a life raft with a hyena, an orangutan, an injured zebra and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. After the beast dispatches the others, Pi is left to survive for 227 days with his large feline companion on the 26-foot-long raft, using all his knowledge, wits and faith to keep himself alive. The scenes flow together effortlessly, and the sharp observations of the young narrator keep the tale brisk and engaging. Martel's potentially unbelievable plot line soon demolishes the reader's defenses, cleverly set up by events of young Pi's life that almost naturally lead to his biggest ordeal. This richly patterned work, Martel's second novel, won Canada's 2001 Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. In it, Martel displays the clever voice and tremendous storytelling skills of an emerging master.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
I,for one, am a HUGE reader. Honestly, even though I read excessively, I rarely find books that where when I finish, I wish to start over and read again. Anyway, this story is about a young boy who's name is Pi. When his family moves from their current home via ship, it has assorted animals from their old business, a zoo.The ship ends up sinking, and when Pi gets in a lifeboat he doesn't realize that there is a tiger there also. This book explains the love/ relationship between the two as they journey through the ocean, all alone.
I recommend this book to all YA, adults, or middle school level. Kudos to Yann Mattel, your book just got a 5.
Good book. Sort of a magical feel to it, it's charming while also contemplating some serious/big topics. It's a pretty easy read so I would recommend it. It's most likely to appeal to you if you're looking for a new experience rather than some predetermined outcome.
This is what the book made me think about--
The story uses religion and a discussion of religion to make an argument about the right way of thinking about life. Pi says that atheism and theism both require faith of equal amounts (you’re basically deciding to believe in something while knowing you can’t ever be sure about it, or even have any evidence one way or the other), and are therefore respectable. But agnosticism is dithering (knowing you can’t ever be sure about it or have any evidence one way or the other and therefore choosing to do nothing), and to be avoided because it represents a kind of half-hearted, insecure approach to life. I think that the author was probably intending something different than what I took away from this, but my thought was that it’s important to try and be brave about your thoughts -- it’s not that you don’t think you could ever be wrong, but that you *know* you’re likely to be wrong and you just don’t want to waste your time or the time of other people by explaining that. You have to have the confidence to act on something, or else your life will pass by. This is an interesting way of thinking, but it’s more complicated than it seems to actually succeed in living your life this way. That’s because it’s not advocating dogma, but you could easily become dogmatic if you tried to follow those principles. I think it’s about being secure in your uncertainty and still acting decisively. Bringing back the part about choosing to do nothing because you can’t be sure one way or the other (the approach of agnosticism), you realize that this isn’t really an option in real life. Inaction is an action. If you’re on one side of the street, you can choose to cross or not. But really the fact that there’s a default setting makes it seem like you’re choosing something vs. nothing. In fact, you’re choosing to stand on one side of the street or the other. Perhaps what this book is suggesting is that people should stop trying to escape the fact of the choices they make.
The son of a zookeeper, Piscine “Pi” Molitor Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.
The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. Much in the story is left up to the reader’s imagination as it leaves out key details that prove to be crucial to the story such as the sinking of the Tsimtsum and the disappearance of Richard Parker.
In part one of the book, Yann Martel sets up the theme of religion by establishing Pi’s poly-religious worshipping preferences: Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. More so, Martel’s introduction and analysis of the zoo give the reader thoughtful insight into his purpose for the book. Martel hopes to inspire readers’ thoughts by using animals to symbolize how similar people are in fact to other species.
In part two of the book, the reader is unaware of the significance of the novel (which could be perceived as ineffective by some at this point), and what Yann Martel is trying to bring to his or her attention. At this point in the novel, Martel relies on his extremely gifted storytelling abilities, giving the reader the impression that Life of Pi is just another entertaining modern survival novel. However, the author makes sure to give subliminal messages throughout the novel, almost all of which carry a heavier significance by part three of the book.
There are times when Martel pushes the didactic agenda of his story too hard. One episode involving a bizarre ''Gandhian'' island of carnivorous seaweed -- populated by an enormous herd of South African meerkats -- struck as a little too baldly allegorical, however magical in its imagery. Despite this Martel is able to keep his feet on the ground by focusing on the physical and logistical details of his hero's predicament.
Moreover, in the book's final chapters Martel gives Life of Pi an intriguing twist. After the lifeboat comes safely to shore in Mexico (and Richard Parker disappears without ceremony into the jungle), Pi finds that his wild narrative is not believed by the officials sent to debrief him. And he knows exactly why: ''You want a story that won't surprise you. That will confirm what you already know. That won't make you see higher or further or differently. Urged to provide a more credible explanation for his survival, Pi placates the officials with a story that contains just the kind of ''dry, yeastless factuality'' they're looking for. But is this more straightforward (and tigerless) version of events actually closer to the deeper truth of his adventure? It's a testimony to Martel's achievement that few readers will be tempted to think so. Whether the first or second story is accurate is left up to the reader to decipher.
Perhaps the best indication of Life of Pi as a contemporary Postmodern novel is its theological destitution: instead of being interested in the theological basis of Pi’s soul, it is really interested only in the theological basis of storytelling. The former is or could be a day to day, lived reality; the latter is only a piquant but now familiar contemporary abstraction. Yann Martel’s prose leads the reader to believe Pi’s abstract story as told with conviction and establishes a bridge between religion and the moral of the story being hope: without hope the situation seems helpless and barbaric but with hope the situation is romanticized and tells the tale of love and admiration. The novel leaves the reader desiring more of the story and will leave him with a better understanding of animals, the barbarity of the human race and will leave much to ponder about the story of a young man and his journey with a Bengal Tiger.