Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Life of Pi

Alright, I know I am years behind the times, but I just finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Really, the timing turned out well since his new book is scheduled to be released very soon. So think of this as a reminder. I didn’t read Life of Pi when it was very popular after it won the Booker Prize because my sister told me it wasn’t worth it.

Well she was wrong. I loved it.

The story is about a young boy, Piscine "Pi" Molitor Patel, who has grown up in Pondicherry India, but is moving to Canada. The novel is really in two parts- first, there is some background/character development in India with Pi, then the second part takes place on a lifeboat when the ship carrying Pi and his family (along with their zoo animals) overturns in the middle of the ocean and he ends up the sole survivor, besides a very large tiger named Richard Parker. There is a third part, much shorter, that ends the story with Pi telling the story of his time on the boat to investigators from the company that owned the boat that sunk.

I think I liked the book so much because of the way Pi is created. His character is so well developed through stories and anecdotes in the first part that when he finds himself alone on a boat with a tiger, it doesn’t seem so far-fetch that he is able to survive. In fact, the only part of the book I didn’t like was the end, when the investigators question the truth of his journey. I felt it unnecessary and undermined his story telling. I get that the end was important for closing the religious metaphor, but I still was not that fond of it.

Pi’s day-to-day life on the boat is so well described, so thoughtful. Martel is truly a great storyteller.

Now, a quick note about Martel. He also writes a blog- it is based around an idea he began a few years ago. Here is how he describes it:

“For as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada, I vow to send him every two weeks, mailed on a Monday, a book that has been known to expand stillness. That book will be inscribed and will be accompanied by a letter I will have written. I will faithfully report on every new book, every inscription, every letter, and any response I might get from the Prime Minister, on this website”

And so he goes- right now he is at 78 books. Only once has the Prime Minister replied. And by PM, I mean his assistant replied, not Mr. Harper. However, recently, Mr. Martel received a letter from President Obama! The letter says he read Life of Pi with his daughter and they loved it. Take that Katy. Even though you don’t like the book, Barack Obama does :)

Next up- another non-fiction, The 100 Mile Diet- I am a good chunk in already, so won’t be too far off.


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