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Life of Pi Paperback – Oct 10 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 270 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 270 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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


"Yann Martel's Life of Pi (Canongate) is another reminder of the largely unsung excellence of the Canongate list. The fiercely independent Scottish outfit remains an outpost of rare quality and distinction, and this exceptional understated novel is certainly a worthy addition to its output.... It would not be out of place on a Booker shortlist." -- From The Bookseller

“In the end, Life of Pi may not, as its teller promises, persuade readers to believe in God, but it makes a fine argument for the divinity of good art.” -- Noel Rieder, The Gazette (Montreal)

“Martel’s latest literary offering, Life of Pi, is an exquisitely crafted tale that could be described as a castaway adventure story cum allegory.” -- The Gazette (Montreal)

Life of Pi…is about many things -- religion, zoology, fear -- but most of all, it’s about sheer tenacity. Martel has created a funny, wise and highliy original look at what it means to be human.” -- Chatelaine

“In many ways, Life of Pi is a good old-fashioned boy’s book full of survival, cannibalism, horror, math and zoology. An impressive marriage of The Jungle Book with Lord of the Flies, it’s the harrowing coming of age tale of a boy who survives for over a year in a lifeboat with a zebra, an organgutan, an hyena and a Bengal tiger.” -- The Montreal Mirror

“A good story can make you see, understand and believe, and Martel is a very good storyteller. Martel displays an impresive knowledge of language, history, religion and literature, and his writing is filled with details and insights.” -- The Canadian Press

“[Life of Pi] has a buoyant, exotic, insistence reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s most Gothic fiction…Oddities abound and the storytelling is first-rate. Yann Martel has written a novel full of grisly reality, outlandish plot, inventive setting and thought-provoking questions about the value and purpose of fiction. This novel should float.” -- The Edmonton Journal

“I guarantee that you will not be able to put this book down. It is a realistic, gripping story of survival at sea. On one level, the book is a suspenseful adventure story, a demonstration of how extreme need alters a man’s character…. On another level, this is a profound meditation on the role of religion in human life and the nature of animals, wild and human. His language…is vivid and striking. His imagination if powerful, his range enormous, his capacity for persuasion almost limitless. I predict that Yann Martel will develop into one of Canada’s great writers." -- The Hamilton Spectator

“[M]artel’s writing is so original you might think he wants you to read as if, like a perfect snowflake, no other book had ever had this form…. In Pi one gleans that faith -- one of the most ephemeral emotions, yet crucial whenever life is one the line -- is rooted in the will to live. In any event, when Pi does come to the end of his journey, he has it.” -- National Post

“[A]stounding and beautiful…The book is a pleasure not only for the subtleties of its philosophy but also for its ingenious and surprising story. Martel is a confident, heartfelt artist, and his imagination is cared for in a writing style that is both unmistakable and marvelously reserved. The ending of Life of Pi…is a show of such sophisticated genius that I could scarcely keep my eyes in my head as I read it.” -- The Vancouver Sun

"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.... 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.
FYI: Booksellers would be wise to advise readers to browse through Martel's introductory note. His captivating honesty about the genesis of his story is almost worth the price of the book itself." -- Publisher's Weekly

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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While I would give the author's writing ability a "5", and his use of symbolism a "4", the storyline itself only receives a "1". I view the writing of this novel as similar to asking Rembrandt, himself, to paint your house. He may do an exquisite job but it will still only be a house and never the masterpiece that you had hoped for.

In his story of fantasy, the author shows that the human spirit can adjust to any and all conditions and still survive and, at times, even thrive. While the protagonist lives in India he is the son of a zoo keeper and, being so, has the means to develop his religious life. He does so by belonging to three different religions at the same time. When the well known shipwreck with the tiger occurs he must shift his focus of ethereal living to that of mere survival. He must learn to suffer pain and extreme suffering, feed his instinctual hungers, defend himself from the varying forces around him and seek the safest position(s), both literally and figuratively, in order to survive. Fantasies and delirium eventually force him to face his irrationalities and to escape before they overtake him. And, finally, with his recontact with civilization he needs to refuse to do what the predetermined investigators expect him to do and, by doing so, leaves with his full ego intact while satisfying their needs at the same time.

While the allegory of this book is very compelling, I feel that because of the author's innate writing ability a masterpiece could have been written by approaching these issues in a different manner. Instead, we are left with only a well painted house but no masterpiece. None of us, no matter how well educated we are nor how many books we have read, enjoy reading about the 'entrails of life itself'.
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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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