Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Although released way back in 2001, and having already received critical acclaim, the novel Life of Pi has become even more popular than ever due to the recently released film of the same name. The 2012 film, starring Bollywood actors Irrfan Khan and Tabu, and directed by Ang Lee, has just won four Academy Awards, including Best Director. So, naturally, there’s going to be a lot of attention surrounding the novel. If the film seems kind of arty and different, it’s because it’s how the book is. It’s a highly imaginative and complex story that is not only a good read but will provoke a lot of thought.
Don’t worry. It’s not a book about algebra. The main character in Life of Piis named Piscine Patel but is given the teasing nickname Pi. The son of a zookeeper, he has an incredibly active mind. As a kid, he studies the habits of just about every known animal in the ecosystem, while also reading up on several religious and philosophies. When he becomes sixteen, he sets off with his family on a sea voyage from India to Canada to begin a new life. But, in the middle of the journey, the ship sinks and leaves Pi stranded on a 26 foot raft with nothing but an enormous bengal tiger and his mental resources to comfort him.
Life of Pi is a very inventive story. Narrated by the protagonist, Pi’s rich imagination and overactive mind propel the story forward. Like all great first-person books, the voice of the protagonist is very direct, personal, and conversational. It’s as if we’re getting to know Pi, as if we’re his only company on this long and lost journey he’s on. It is also a book that is full of symbolism. There are many themes and messages regarding spirituality, faith, and finding the answer to the bigger questions in life.
But, it’s one of those novels that wouldn’t do it justice by explaining it too much. You can’t completely explain it or pin it down to one message and that’s what makes it such an amazing read. There is something new to get out of it every time, which is what I believe defines all classic novels. The film is incredible and has its own merits, but you should really read the book if you want the full experience of being inside of Pi’s crowded head.
Life of Pi Amazon page (book): http://www.amazon.com/Life-Pi-Yann-Martel/dp/0547848412
Life of Pi Wikipedia page (film): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_of_Pi_%28film%29