Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Life of Pi

The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

My rating: 5/5

What a strange, wonderful book!

A writer traveling in India is accosted by a man purporting to tell him a story that will make him believe in God. A hundred pages later, our hero Pi is on a boat with a tiger, drifting in the currents of the Pacific ocean, with nary another human embarkation in sight. The premise seems scarcely believable, and indeed it does require a leap of faith, of sorts. But readers are always more than prepared to offer these leaps of faith, so the premise laid, the ramifications ensue. And what ramifications they are! Traveling on a boat with a tiger is a dangerous proposition, but Pi sees no way to get rid of him, and he becomes predictably attached to the beast, having known him from his early years in the Pondicherry zoo that his father owned.

Pi's character is overly religious: he cumulates religious practices like most adolescents collect sporting activities. He is a Hindu, then a Christian, then a Muslim. All these approaches to God hold no contradiction for him, and together with his childhood in a zoo they form the skeleton of his character: respectful of nature and searching for God in all his manifestations.

The story is artfully layered, and many details that appear to have been put in for descriptive purposes actually serve to inform subsequent events in the story.

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