Life of Pi – Book Review

Life of Pi, written by the Canadian author Yann Martel and first published in 2001 is a Man Booker Prize winning novel along with being a winner of the Asian American Prize for Literature. It tells the story of a young boy named Pi who spends 227 days out on sea on a small raft with a group of animals after their ship sinks and is a tale of his journey towards survival.

The Life of Pi is the story of Piscine “Pi” Molitor Patel, a young boy who lives in Pondicherry, India where his father owns a zoo and is a follower of three religions, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Due to the political unrest in India at that time, the Patel family decides to shut down the zoo and move to Canada.

Unfortunately, disaster strikes during their journey and the ship carrying the Patel family and the entire zoo animals sink, leaving Pi stranded alone on a small lifeboat along with an injured zebra, orangutan called Orange Juice, a hyena, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

A few days into the journey, the hyena kills and eats the injured zebra and then the orangutan. The tiger, Richard Parker, in turn kills the hyena and so Pi is left alone on the boat with a hungry tiger. In order to stay alive, Pi soon establishes himself as the alpha male of the group so that the tiger does not harm him. He, in turn, begins to fish and feed the two of them since he, too, doesn’t want to be alone on the boat for fear of going mad.

Life of Pi then enters its third phase when their lifeboat washes up on the shores of Mexico and the tiger escapes into a nearby forest leaving Pi alone. After the authorities refuse to believe Pi’s story, he modifies his tale by replacing the animals with his mother, a murderous cook and a sailor and asks the authorities which one they prefer.

Even though they do not believe a word of it, they prefer the first story which leads Pi to remark that it is much the same way with God – those who choose not to believe miss out on the better story.

Life of Pi is a must read book for all those who love a substantial read that takes time to digest. It is available at all leading bookstores although one can get it at a great discount at some of the online retailers.