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Tuesday 26 April 2011

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

'Life of Pi' by Yann Martel is a unbelievably fascinating story of Piscine Motilor Patel nicknamed as Pi and his arduous 227 days journey on a life boat in the dangerous pacific waters.

Pi lives in Pondicherry with his parents and brother Ravi. He is an intelligent child and is always eager to learn new things in life. His father is the owner of Pondicherry Zoo and thus Pi also has a sound knowledge of raising animals and zoo keeping. He is very spiritual and despite being born Hindu, he is attracted towards the preaching of Christianity and Islam and follows all the three religions avidly.

When Pi is 14 years old, his father decides to leave India for foreign shores. He sells off the zoo and most of the animals to various American and Indian zoo to set sail for Canada. They leave India with the animals as cargo on the ship. On the way to Canada, the unthinkable happens. Tsimtsum sinks and from there starts the incredible story of survival of Pi.

As the only surviving human from the shipwreck, Pi finds himself in the company of a dying Zebra, a hyena, an Orag-Utan and a 450 lbs Royal Bengal Tiger in a life boat. It is his wit, unerring faith in the Almighty and his desire to live that kept him going and in the end against all odds his determination wins.

The book has oodles of wisdom on various perspective of life which will make you ponder over things which we normally take for granted. It is a book not to be rushed upon. It should be read slowly savouring each and every details of it. I must admit I found the first 50 pages a bit drag and painstakingly slow and boring. Yet, there was something that kept me stuck to reading it, the words from the author's note kept ringing in my ears ~ 'it is a story that will make you believe in God' and there was no looking back. It is written mostly in first person in the voice of Pi with the exception of the a few short chapters from the author and the author's note where he tells how he came across this incredible human being and his incredulous story of survival.

I am really short of words to explain what to expect from the book. Yann Martel is a master story teller who has woven a tale so incredulous and surreal that any logic would deny it and still in your heart, you would want to believe it. I would just say, read it to find it yourself.

There are some excerpts from the book, I would like to share:

"I was alone and orphaned, in the middle of the pacific, hanging on to an oar, an adult tiger in front of me, sharks beneath me, a storm raging about me. Had I considered my prospects in the light of reason, I  would have given up and let go of the oar, hoping I might drown before being eaten. But, I don't recall that I had a single thought during those first minutes of relative safety. I didn't even notice daybreak. I held on to the oar, I just held on, God only know why."

" I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever , treacherous adversary, how well I know."

"So, I drifted. Winds and currents decided where I went. Time became distance for me in the way it is for all mortals- I traveled down the road of life- and I did other things with my fingers than to try to measure latitude."

Life of Pi by Yann Martel won the Man Booker Prize in 2002.


  1. A very interesting review.. i think i have heard of this during my college days.. sure to be added in my TBR list

  2. this was a miss for me - Kinda liked the writing, but the story did turn bizarre! But loved the fact that it was based in my hometown - Pondicherry!


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