Many said that Life of Pi by Yann Martel is a book that makes you think about life after reading it. I picked this book up several times at the bookstore, only to put it back into its shelve after reading and re-reading its synopsis. Somehow the story of a boy who was stranded in a lifeboat with a tiger for hundreds of days did not sound very thought-provoking nor appealing enough for me. Of course, I was curious as to what made this book a Man Booker Prize winner. Moreover, when it was made into a movie directed by Ang Lee and subsequently won several awards, I was all the more intrigued. Still, I was not convinced. Finally, I bought the book and read it when it was on the reading list of the Classics Without All The Class Book Club on Goodreads for the month of March.
Pi Patel was a sixteen-year-old boy who was on his way to Canada from India on the cargo ship Tsimtsum when it sank in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He was literally pushed into lifeboat, together with a zebra, a hyena, an orang-utan and a Royal Bengal tiger. All these animals were from the Pondicherry Zoo which Pi’s parents used to run and it was closed down after they decided to migrate to Canada. And so the story was a narration on how Pi managed to survive with Richard Parker the tiger on board, in a lifeboat, in the middle of the ocean, for hundreds of days.
In my opinion, the story is hard to believe yet logically believable. The reason that Richard Parker did not eat up Pi alive was well explained, and convincing. There are lessons to take home, such as the capability of the human nature to adapt and cope, the real reason we are hanging on in our circumstances and the importance of not giving up. It is original and well-written, but I had to persuade myself to be patient enough to sit through. Moreover, due to my personal beliefs, I do not take to Pi’s standpoint on dabbling into every religion that he came across.
All in all, this book is worth a read, a good escape from the noise around us because for most part of the book, all I could hear is the sound of the ocean waves and the occassional tiger roar.
There is a professional review by The Guardian, if you are interested.
**Image of the book cover above is linked from paulting.blogspot.com