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Life of Pi Paperback – Oct 10 2002

263 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada; 1 edition (Oct. 10 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676973779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676973778
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Serious novels about young boys being drawn closer to God while trapped on lifeboats with dangerous wild animals ought to be impossible. Life of Pi, Yann Martel's second novel, proves they're not. Its plot stretches the limits of credibility into new and exciting shapes, and the fact that Martel has made his materials into an enchanting story is almost unbelievable. Martel's Pi is Piscine Molitor Patel, a boy from Pondicherry, one of the few Indian towns to be colonized by France. Pi is an intelligent, unusual child: he has a scientific turn of mind but is also a practising Hindu, Moslem, and Christian. Pi's family runs a large zoo, but they decide to sell their animals to zoos in the United States and emigrate to Canada. Crossing the Pacific (with their animals), they're shipwrecked halfway between China and Midway. Pi survives, only to find himself sharing a lifeboat with an injured zebra, a spotted hyena, an orangutan, and Richard Parker--an immense Bengal tiger.

Most of these animals are doomed, but Pi and Richard Parker cling to life, establishing a tacit order on the lifeboat. Martel handles this part of the story perfectly: one would expect Life of Pi to become cute, or perhaps preachy, but it is neither. Life on the boat proceeds in strict accordance with the rules of ecology and territorialism, and the interdependence of the passengers is both believable and absorbing. Life of Pi is a superb novel, both for its story and for its rich examinations of religion, isolation, and love. If this is an indication of what is to come, we can expect great things from Yann Martel. --Jack Illingworth

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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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Michael Cox on Nov. 4 2002
Format: Paperback
Yann Martel's novel takes us from a small community in India to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where a boy and a tiger share a lifeboat and develop, if not a friendship, a unique understanding of one another. The novel begins slowly and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but I also couldn't put it down, especially once on the high seas. Like any seafaring tale, it may be "tall" in parts, and you can, if you wish, choose to believe an alternate story provided for you near the end, but I prefer the taller of the two tales, and was bleary-eyed but well rewarded for reading it in one long sitting.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dan Goddard on Dec 5 2002
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most powerful novels I have ever read. It begins with a section that builds up the main character flawlessly. Then it shifts to wonderfully written story of survival, exploring almost every angle of human nature in the face of adversity. It delves into relationships in the most interesting of ways, and makes one think twice about their own. The third and final section of the book brings a bit of a twist in the plot; it left me enjoying the book in it's entirity even more. It is one of those feel good books, which I could not put down.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Booknut on May 30 2002
Format: Hardcover
I read between 50 and 80 books a year and it is the rare novel that does not disappoint me on some level. This book never let me down, I was never bored and I never felt the author cheated or left loose ends. The language was simple and lyrical but full of symbolism and symmetry. I loved the main character's honesty and optimism and his simple will to survive. Above all I loved the choice of an alternate ending, neither story is a perfect fit leaving the reader the choice to make up their own mind. I laughed, I cried and I'm recommending it to everyone I know.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard Tarleton on Oct. 23 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure what I liked more, the book or the negative reviews. Having spent the last 5 years of my life in undergrad philosophy, Life of Pi didn't offer any new philosophical insights. For those who grasped the point made in the end, it's a rather old argument, but presented in a very colourful story that at first I wasn't able to get into, but then became quite enthralled with.I can't help but wonder if the people who didn't "get it" were distracted when reading. I notice a number of reviews saying the beginning has nothing to do with the middle or end. Not to be vague and blunt, but the beginning is the beginning that leads to the middle and the end. In order to find the significance in the story, simply pay attention to who and what Pi is during his time in India. His devotion to religion and family, the influences of his two friends Kumar and what each represents and the small bits of information into the character of animals and humans.Did the book make me believe in God? Well, no, that would be sort of silly. As someone very non-religious I doubt any book could do that. But I understood its message clearly enough and I even agree with the principle. Especially as its presented in this work, its very moving, something I'm not apt to say often.For the life of me I can't figure the reviews from people who say it has no ending, I'm not sure what more they hoped for, what the thought lacking. I read the ending no less than 6 hours ago, it was clear to me and very appropriate as well. Again, I suspect perhaps some readers were just too distracted or were reading in such a way as to focus only on the hapter at hand without appreciating the whole story as it had been built to that point.In any event, I'd certainly recommend the book.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Melissa on May 11 2011
Format: Paperback
A 16 year-old Indian boy, Pi Patel, is travelling to Canada with his family and the majority of his father's zoo animals when their cargo ship sinks. The only human survivor, Pi must survive the high seas while stuck in a life boat with a zebra, hyena, orangutan, and Bengal tiger. This was a very original story, absurd and really stretching the boundaries of my imagination, but the writing made me a believer. I found Pi's voice to be engaging ' at times, a little over-descriptive, especially about the gruesome details of killing animals and fish, but still very endearing.

I really liked the ending of the book, particularly the last few chapters; it made me critically analyze the entire novel and see all the events from a new perspective. This is one of those books that, after you have read the last page, require time to digest before moving on to another book. I almost liked the book more after I had finished it than I did while I was reading it. Overall, recommended.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By rackronnieroff on May 19 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Life of Pi" is a lovely, intelligent and unique novel - one of the best I've read in a while.
Though I found Pi's views on the lives of zoo animals a bit off (in fact they made me not WANT to like the book!), he is an incredibly endearing, smart character whom I could not help respecting and rooting for. He is a teenage boy - a practicing Christian, Muslim AND Hindu (all at the same time - much to the consternation of his family and various religious mentors)who escapes a sinking ship in a lifeboat shared by an orangutan, a hyena and a tiger.
Pi and the tiger survive for 227 amazing days in the lifeboat (during which they make an amazing 'botanical' discovery worthy of Star-Trek in its Mr. Spock days) before landing on the coast of Mexico. There Pi provides the authorities two different explanations for his amazing survival.
It's up to you to decide which one is true...
Really worth reading, "Life of Pi" stands out brightly amongst the novels I've read in the past few years, and I'll be recommending it for years to come.
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