- 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 2.1 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 363 g
- Average Customer Review: 234 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Life of Pi Paperback – Oct 10 2002
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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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Though I really respect the author for doing his research thoroughly (this adds a lot of authenticity to the book), the story itself was rather dull. Every single detail in the book was included in the movie. I learned nothing more by reading the book. In fact, the first part of the book (roughly 100 pages) were so boring I almost stopped reading a dozen times. But I forced myself to keep going. I regretted it more with every turn of a page. The story was dull and uneventful. Without the visual aspect, which is what I loved about the film, the story fell flat.
Perhaps this would have been an acceptable read had I not seen the movie, but the movie was so much better than the book that reading it felt like a complete waste of time. If you enjoy introspective books where not much happens, then you may enjoy this book. If not, avoid it like the plague, especially if you saw the movie.
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'. Death of human and animal life, cannibalism, excrement, urine-marking, and rotting decay are not pleasant topics to peruse in order to understand the author's symbolism. And lastly, even in fairly tales and stories of pure fantasy, consistency of plot and events is a necessity. This one fails in that area a few too many times. I feel that the author, because of his abilities, has tremendous innate capabilities. Please, next time, I hope that he focuses on a more palatable storyline to follow.