Yann Martel’s debut novel Life of Pi truly deserves the accolades it has received. I was engaged and entertained by this tale. It is poignant, inspirational and life-affirming.
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The predominant narrator is our protagonist Piscine Molitor Patel, who prefers to be called Pi. Interspersed within Pi’s telling of his story of survival as a teenager, is commentary from a reporter writing an article on the life of Pi many years later.
Pi grew up in a zoo and his knowledge of animal behaviours and traits is the foundation from which he shapes his view of the world and people in general. Even the most dour of individuals could not help liking this character. His self-possession and belief is utterly charming.
Irreverent observational gems such as the following comment by Pi when delivering his considered review of the castaway survival manual he finds in the lifeboat consistently brought a smile to my face.
“The injunction not to drink urine was quite unnecessary. No-one called ‘pissin’ during his childhood would be caught dead with a cup of pee at his lips, even alone in a life boat in the middle of the Pacific.”
I also found the disarming simplicity of the 16-year-old character’s discussions on the differences and similarities of the world’s three major religions and his thoughts on religion in general both appealing and quite profound.
In Life of Pi Yann Martel has written such a very clever story.
There is often conjecture about novels that go on to win high profile awards such as the Man Booker Prize, but in my opinion there should be no argument when it comes to this novel.
This story will be one that stays with me long after reading it. I strongly recommend men and women, young and old acquainting themselves with this character Pi – he is one of the most admirable, believable and inspirational characters you are likely to meet in the world of fiction.
“It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards, even unto our names.”
I listened to Life of Pi on audio and strongly recommend this format. The version I listened to was narrated by Jeff Woodman. His delivery really brought to life the humour and irony the protagonist manages to find in his dire predicament.
If you haven’t tried an audiobook before this is a wonderful example of the real value of this reading format. The latest Audible edition of the audiobook is narrated by British comedian, actor and broadcaster Sanjeev Bhaskar — listen to an audio sample. Sounds fabulous also.
“The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no?
Doesn’t that make life a story?”
BOOK RATING: The Story 5 / 5 ; The Writing 5 / 5
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Genre: Literature, Action, Adventure
About the Author, Yann Martel
Yann Martel, the son of diplomats, was born in Spain in 1963. He grew up in Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Alaska, and Canada and as an adult has spent time in Iran, Turkey, and India. After studying philosophy in college, he worked at various odd jobs until he began earning his living as a writer at the age of twenty-seven. He lives in Montreal.
Watch a video of an interview with Yann Martel on Life of Pi — source Manufacturing Intellect.
This novel was adapted to the big screen and directed by Ang Lee, garnering four Oscars (the most for the event) including Best Director and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.