Life of Pi
A NovelBook - 2001
Pi Patel is an unusual boy. The son of a zookeeper, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior, a fervent love of stories, and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. 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 lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional-but is it more true?
Life of Pi is at once a realistic, rousing adventure and a meta-tale of survival that explores the redemptive power of storytelling and the transformative nature of fiction. It's a story, as one character puts it, to make you believe in God.
From the critics
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The_Light_Particle thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over
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“Come aboard if your destination is oblivion- it should be our next stop. We can sit together. You can have the window seat if you want. But it's a sad view.”
Pi, upon being afraid to find a Bengal Tiger in his life boat: "You might think I lost all hope at that point. I did. And as a result I perked up and felt much better, We see that in sports all the time, don't we? The tennis challenger starts strong, but soon loses confidence in his playing. The champion racks up his game. But in the final set, when the challenger has nothing left to lose, he becomes relaxed again, insouciant, daring. Suddenly he's playing like the devil and and the champion must work hard to get those last points. So it was with me."
"It's important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go" - 'Pi Patel'
"There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless"
- 'Pi Patel'
"... animals don't escape to somewhere but from some something. Something within their territory has frightened them-the intrusion of an enemy, the assault of a dominant animal, a startling noise- and set off a flight reaction."
"Let's hear your story," he said, panting.
"Once upon a time there was a banana and it grew. It grew until it was large, firm, yellow and fragrant. Then it fell to the ground and someone came upon it and ate it."
He stopped rowing. "What a beautiful story!"
"Thank you." (Pg 316)
Then I raced up the hill on the right-to offer thanks to Lord Krishna for having put Jesus of Nazareth, whose humanity I found so compelling, in my way. (pg 73)
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A beautiful book by Yann Martel on the marvels of the imagination and on survival. A great ending and many surprising twists. Made into a movie as well. Well worth it.
Pi Patel grew up in India swimming and hanging out in his family owned Zoo. He practices Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, after visiting a church, Mosque, and a Hindu Temple on a vacation. When he was 16 his family and him left for Canada on a Japanese Cargo ship but never reached their destination, due to a storm causing the ship to sink. Pi's family died but Pi survived leaving him alone... Yet he wasn't the only one to survive, a 450 pound tiger named Richard Parker survived also along with a Hyena, a wounded Zebra, and an Orangutan. Pi Patel was on a small lifeboat stranded in the middle of the ocean with 4 wild animals. The Hyena eats the Zebra alive and then also kills the orangutan. The Tiger Richard Parker then killed the Hyena. Now Pi was just alone with a grown tiger. Pi and this Tiger survived 227 days stranded in the middle of the ocean until he reached Mexico. Richard Parker walked away into the jungle in Mexico never to be seen again by Pi. After Japanese authorities hear of a Japanese Cargo Ship sinking and one lone survivor they drive down to meet Pi, to get answers out of him. He tells his story, but the Japanese do not believe it and ask him to tell the true story, he then tells of another gruesome version of the story with humans in the place of the animals. Not knowing which story was the true one the Japanese leave and Pi spends the rest of his life in Canada.
A young Indian and his parents cast off to move to Canada when an unexpected storm happens that killed his family.Now all he has is a simple lifeboat and a adult male tiger and has to adapt to it if he wants to survive...
THE LIFE OF PI is one of two of the most unusual books I've ever come across. The other was McCrae's KATZENJAMMER. (A third was ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by Sedaris, though that book is quite funny as well). LIFE OF PI is told by the central character, Pi, whose real name Piscene (pool) has been distorted in childhood to Pissing, assumes a name that measures the diameter of a circle, the symbol of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Pi tells two stories of being lost at sea--one story of a miraculous survival for 277 days of a boy on a boat with a Bengal tiger and another story of cannibalism and murder on that same boat whose occupants are Pi, a cook, Pi's mother, and a Taiwanese sailor. Pi says, "So tell me . . .which is the better story? And so it goes with God." Life of Pi concludes with the investigators for the shipwreck's cause choosing the first story in which the caged animals somehow all escaped from their cages as the ship Tsimtsum sank suddenly to the bottom of the Pacific as the more believable, but is the reader to do so? Before choosing to believe the first story, Mr. Chiba, one of the investigators, makes associations between the hyena in the first story and the cook in the second; he sees the zebra in the first as the Taiwanese sailor in the second. The orangutan in the first was Pi's mother in the second, and the tiger Richard Parker from the first is Pi in the second. Then Mr. Chiba asks, "What about the island? Who are the meerkats? What about the teeth? I don't know. I am not inside this boy's head." Must also recommend KATZENJAMMER by McCrae and the novel BARK OF THE DOGWOOD for two other great reads.
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