The Life of Pi

On this occasion I’ve broken my own rules, having seen the movie before reading the book. I erred and wondered if I should still read Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi or if the film had now sullied my would-be reading experience. However retrospectively I don’t know why I stalled even momentarily.  After making a decision to read it, I dived head first into the 2002 Man Booker prize winner and was suitably rewarded by Mr Martel’s fine work.

Imagine Tarzan meets Robinson Crusoe and Castaway and you’re on the right track. The Life of Pi is a high-sea-lifeboat-survival-adventure tale, with a side-serve of fable and some spirituality all wrapped up and delivered in novel-format.

The Life of Pi is the story of a sixteen year old Indian boy named Piscine Molitor Patel who quickly and cleverly becomes known as Pi. His family own the Pondicherry Zoo, spread over acres of lush and abundant grounds, home to a large menagerie of animals. A stark contrast to the location where the rest of the novel takes place. Pi’s family pack up their animals, load them onto a cargo ship beyond for the more prosperous shores of Canada. However their plans and dreams sink with the cargo ship and most of its cargo. In the midst of a tragic shipwreck Pi manages to find safety in a lifeboat. The only other survivors are a hyena, a zebra with a broken leg, an orangutan and a 450 pound Royal Bengal tiger. Ironically the tiger, named Richard Parker is one of the biggest threats to Pi’s survival but ultimately he becomes the reason for his survival and saves Pi from existential loneliness. Luckily for Pi, he is a boy of belief. He firmly believes and is a practising Hindu, Muslim and Christian. His holy trinity help him to survive. Thus Pi and his fellow survivors float in the Pacific Ocean,  an irony for the boy named after a swimming pool (Piscine) desperately trying to survive. 227 days later the epic-journey comes to its conclusion.

You (the reader) will experience fear, desperation, power, control, belief and disbelief and a bit of green-sea-sickness right up until you’ve turned the very last page.