LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel
Reviewed by Rosita Fichtel, Booklovers
14, 2003) At a time when the world is so divided along religious
lines, it’s reassuring to see that Life
of Pi has earned such popularity, so much so
that for several days last month Barnes and Noble was out
of stock. Everyone in our group enjoyed the book with varying
levels of enthusiasm.
The book is divided into three parts. In the first section
the Indian teenager, Pi, relates his adventures as the son
of a zookeeper, and his religious awakening as a fervent believer
in Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. He sees not contradiction,
but harmony in these three great religions. His story is told
with much charm and simplicity. Some Booklovers felt the beginning
was slow, but this reader enjoyed this section the most.
The second part relates Pi’s harrowing experience losing
his family (and the zoo animals they are transporting) when
their ship en route to Canada sinks in the Pacific. Pi finds
himself in a lifeboat with four wild animals, where he must
use his wits and cunning to survive. This section offers a
wealth of information about survival strategies at sea and
animal behavior, all told in clear and eloquent prose. One
person in Booklovers thought it was "too much fish talk,"
but everyone agreed that the author took a totally improbable
situation and somehow made it both realistic and believable.
Indeed, while the book is clearly presented as a novel, the
author has written it in such a way that some readers in our
group couldn’t help but wonder if it was based on a
true story. (Editor’s note: according to the author,
it is purely fiction.)
Finally, in the third section the author offers an alternative
ending to his story and in doing so explores the meaning of
truth and faith.
Yann Martel is a remarkable storyteller, and the central
character, Pi, as well as the philosophy interwoven through
the book, provide ample material for a lively book group discussion.
Note: An informal discussion of the book will be led by Rev. Tom
Nicoll on Sunday, December 7, 11:30-12:30, at St. John's Episcopal
Church, at Fountain Square, in Larchmont.
FROM THE EDITORS: We'd love to hear from other Larchmont
readers. Take the Book poll and add your
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