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Description - Life of Pi by Yann Martel

After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, one solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific.The crew of the surviving vessel consists of a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan, a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger and Pi - a 16-year-old Indian boy.The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary pieces of literary fiction of recent years. Yann Martel's Life of Pi is a transformative novel, a dazzling work of imagination that will delight and astound readers in equal measure. It is a triumph of storytelling and a tale that will, as one character puts it, make you believe in God.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781841953922
ISBN-10: 184195392X
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 21mm)
Pages: 348
Imprint: Canongate Books Ltd
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Publish Date: 17-May-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Life of Pi by Yann Martel

UK Kirkus Review » The premise of this novel is so bold that only an immensely confident and imaginative writer would try to pull it off. A 16-year-old boy is emigrating with his family from India to Canada when their ship sinks and he is cast away on a lifeboat, the sole survivor. Or at least, not quite. Pi's father runs a zoo in India, and when they emigrate, they have to take some of the animals with them so they can be re-housed in a Canadian zoo. Although Pi is the only human survivor of the shipwreck, some of the animals survive: a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena and a Bengal tiger with the unlikely name of Richard Parker. At least two-thirds of this 300-page book tell the story of Pi's seven-month ordeal on a lifeboat with no human company. For any writer, producing a novel that has very little interaction between human beings, and, for large chunks, no dialogue, is a fairly considerable challenge. Instead, we learn all about Pi and how his strong survival instinct sees him through the ordeal. This involves a combination of practical skills that help him find food and water (although a practising Hindu and vegetarian, he has to eat raw fish), mental cunning that enables him to tame the tiger (the other animals don't last very long); and spiritual strength (he is, oddly, a devotee of Islam and Christianity as well as Hinduism) that gives him the will to live. The amazing thing is that it works. Although the story is utterly implausible, Martel has clearly done huge amounts of research that make it convincing, at least on a literary level. Pi himself is a likeable character - a young boy who is mature enough to devise a sophisticated survival strategy and recount his ordeal with humour. It is, he says, the tiger who saves him. By the end he regards Richard Parker as a friend - but the feeling isn't mutual. 'I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. The pain is like an axe that chops at my heart.' This book is quite an accomplishment. For anyone weary of semi-autobiographical novels, this is one that springs entirely from an author's fertile imagination. (Kirkus UK)


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Book Review: Life of Pi by Yann Martel - Reviewed by (26 Dec 2012)

Life of Pi is the second novel by Canadian author Yann Martel. It tells the story the 227-day ordeal, in a lifeboat with a 450 pound Royal Bengal tiger, of a sixteen-year-old Indian youth, Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi). It is told in three parts: Pi’s youth in Pondicherry at his father’s zoo and the Patel family’s decision to emigrate to Canada; the sinking of the ship and Pi’s sojourn on the lifeboat; and Pi’s interview by officials from the Japanese Ministry of Transport, in an Infirmary in Mexico; the author’s notes about his meetings with Pi, the Japanese official who interviewed Pi and the family friend of the Patel’s who first alerted him to the story, lend an authenticity to the novel. Martel’s story touches on theology, zoology, human behaviour, sanity and the will to survive, and his meticulous research into his subjects is apparent in every chapter. With lyrical prose, Martel describes Pi’s encounters with fish, turtles, birds and whales, as well as the quality of the sky, the sea and the wind. Pi’s experience with the floating algae island proves that anything that seems too good to be true, usually is. My favourite scene was the encounter on the seaside esplanade of Pi’s parents, the pundit, the imam and the priest, especially the effect of Pi’s last words on the holy men. The objections that the incredulous Japanese officials cite to Pi’s fantastic story are quite amusing; the alternate version that Pi offers them, on the other hand, is certainly sobering. Martel’s imagery is evocative: “I believe it was this that saved my life that morning, that I was quite literally dying of thirst. Now that the word had popped into my head I couldn’t think of anything else, as if the word itself were salty and the more I thought of it, the worse the effect.” And he occasionally has Pi very succinctly describing his predicament: “...to be a castaway is to be caught up in grim and exhausting opposites….” , “Life on a lifeboat isn’t much of a life.” There is horror in this story, but also much humanity and humour is laced throughout. Highly original, funny and thought-provoking.


Author Biography - Yann Martel

Yann Martel was born in Spain but currently lives in Montreal. He is the hugely acclaimed author of Self, a novel, and of the story collection The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios. Yann's delight of a novel, Life of Pi, is his third book and was the winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. It was also shortlisted for the Governor General Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 2002.

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