Friday, October 19, 2012

Book Review: The Life of Pi

Martel, Y. (2001). Life of Pi : a novel. 1st U.S. ed. New York: Harcourt.

I have to confess that someone left a copy of The Life of Pi in the Physics Library several years ago. It has been sitting on my office bookshelf ever since. Periodically I would look at and think hmm, I should read that. After all, it won the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction ( But when I saw that Ang Lee was making a movie of the book ( ) and it was due out this coming November I thought it was probably time to read it. 

The book tells the story of Pi (short for Piscine) Molitor, a young Indian boy growing up in Pondicherry, India, where his father ran the local zoo. When he is 16 his father decides to leave India for Canada. They pack up their animals and board a Japanese freighter. The unthinkable happens and the ship sinks, leaving only Pi and a few animals in a lifeboat. The rest of the story is about Pi's journey across the ocean, his only companion a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Pi turns out to be quite resourceful during his voyage, using his wits to keep himself and Richard Parker alive. They encounter many wondrous things as they cross the Pacific Ocean. As I read it I wondered if I would have been able to survive as Pi did.

The Life of Pi is more than a survival story. It's deeper than that. It explores man's relationship with animals (and with himself). It explores the nature of spirituality and story-telling. And it explores the depths of the imagination.

If you are looking for a book that truly transports you to somewhere else I'd highly recommend The Life of Pi.

Submitted by Kerry Kresse.

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