Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Book Review: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Yann Martel won the 2002 Man Booker Prize for the Life of Pi and for many people this would be reason enough not to read it. Those that equate winning the Booker prize with unreadable highbrow twaddle should think again, because Life of Pi is a most readable and original story with an ending that leaves the reader as unsure as some of the characters about its real meaning; a clever twist to a very unusual tale.

A friend of mine recommended this book to me and as I was curious to see what sort of book wins the Booker prize, I bought a copy from I was pleased to find it beautifully written in an interesting style, but moreover, it is an extremely readable book which could be enjoyed by a wide range of readers, and would certainly provide an enjoyable alternative read to weary English literature school students.

From the beginning the main character of Pi is sketched out as one with rather a curious background: a child who embraces the religions of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity all at the same time. However, the adventure really begins when Pi's father decides to move the family's zoo to Canada, a decision which ultimately results in Pi being stranded in a lifeboat with Richard Parker: a 450 pound Bengal Tiger!

This extraordinary tale of survival is full of surprises and almost halucinogenic incidents including a chance meeting with a French chef and a stopover on a floating island of seaweed, inhabited by meerkats.

I could hardly recommend this book more highly; the peculiarity of the story along with the readable style make this one of my favourite books and one I would encourage anyone to read.

Score: 10/10


Unknown said...

An auspicious aligning of the stars caused me to read "Life of Pi" just after I had seen the 3-D version of the movie. It is a deeply spiritual book about a seeker who appropriates three of the religions of his country (why did he not also become a Buddhist?) to access God. As he floated adrift for the 200+ days he was at sea, knowing many names for God gave his strength as he prayed several times a day. Sadly, the movie leaves this out. The alternative endings allow the reader to choose between the nature of a "good" creation with the survival of the fittest or the almost triumph of "evil" creatures. The human comes out on top in either case but the first story allows mutuality. It also taps the sense of abandonment some feel after the death of significant loved ones. Now I know why church groups and lovers of nature both find this novel compelling.

Nick Upton said...

I am glad you liked the book Caroline, it is one of my favorites - I also loved the movie.

One of the great things about this tale is that it can be enjoyed at many levels - just as a wonderful tale or something much deeper.

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