Life of Pi

By Yann Martel,

Book cover of Life of Pi

Book description

After the sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan—and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi Patel,…

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Why read it?

18 authors picked Life of Pi as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Again, I chose a book that is given in the first-person point of view. Rather than using a variety of first persons to tell a story, Martel takes the main character, Pi, and uses him in back-and-forth narrations from various ages – young and in the moment, and older, looking back. As well, he uses Pi as a general narrator overall in the storytelling. This gives the illusion that perhaps the other characters are not so important, or rather they are not the point of the story. 

This book is about the power of story. The protagonist believed three different religions at once because he saw power in all their stories. All of us are free to choose the stories we live by, in mind, body, and spirit.
The story features animals and makes some incredible animal/human interactions believable. It promoted respect for animals, while making me question if it should make any ethical difference anyway, whether the animals adrift on the ocean with Pi were really humans or not. Humans are animals too, aren’t we? Life deserves the same respect whatever species we happen to be.…

In the bestselling novel Life of Pi, a boy survives 227 days at sea in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Or does he? That’s why I am always intrigued by this multi-layered story that explores the relativity of belief. The author is asking me, the reader, to decide what’s real and what isn’t. Do I accept the more unbelievable yet uplifting tale of surviving in a lifeboat with a tiger and other zoo animals, or should I conform to the world as I know it and default to a more mundane version without the animals?…

From Jeff's list on questioning the nature of reality.

Pi, an Indian zookeeper’s son, is marooned in a lifeboat with an orang-utan, a crippled zebra, a hyena, and a tiger. The tiger eats the hyena who polished off the zebra and orang-utan, and the relationship between Pi and the tiger, representing two sides of the protagonist, becomes a tale of endurance and survival shared by man and beast, turning mystical when they disembark on a floating carnivorous island. The prosaic beginning and ending, after the tiger vanishes into the Mexican jungle, link the reader with the real world, and enhance what is a deeply spiritual story. 

Readers enjoy being put in the shoes of the protagonist. It is the job of the author to make readers wonder what’s coming next, to challenge them as they do their characters. Imagine sixteen-year-old Pi Patel, bobbing around in the middle of the unforgiving Pacific on a lifeboat, trying to survive the depredations of a hyena who wants to eat him. Pi has already watched his fellow shipmates, a zebra and orangutang, fall to this predator.

Add to this equation Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. I can feel a William Blake shiver coming on. But this tiger does not…

Don’t be fooled…this literary work seems like just another fantastical adventure, but it is so much more. That’s why I love this novel. This story is rich with alternative meanings that help us to go deeper within and learn about ourselves—our belief systems, our view of a world full of uncertainty, and of our spirituality from which we cannot escape. Just the fantastical adventure alone makes for a unique and extraordinary read, but Yann’s artful arrangement of words is beautiful and magical and that leads the reader to see what Pi is seeing. Growth, survival, and making sense of our…

Theology, science, love, fear, and death are delicately blended in this remarkable tale. The author, Yann Martel, urges the reader to hold sadness and joy in their hands at the same time and, in this particular story, you can’t have one without the other. Life of Pi is the perfect metaphor for ultimate sacrifice and courage, and how humans are capable of dealing with the deepest sorrow one can imagine.

When a 16-year-old Indian boy finds himself shipwrecked on a small raft with only a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger on board, what could possibly go wrong? That question obviously seems ridiculously easy to answer; nearly everything! In this inspiring tale, Yann Martel has created a nearly unbelievable situation which seems extremely unlikely to happen, and yet his tale weaves the story into such a believable set of circumstances that the reader cannot help but get drawn into the chaos. Colorful, imaginative, and inspiring, the Life of Pi is an ocean adventure unlike any other. 


From Doug's list on ocean adventures and life at sea.

Pi is literally thrown into a boat and asked to survive. As he tells his sometimes terrible and sometimes terrifying tale, Pi conveys the wonder at having survived and not the anguish of having almost repeatedly died. He reminded me that surviving a harrowing or unplanned adventure is a tale worth telling. Reminded me that I was 34 years old when I finally told myself I was tired of being afraid, that the unknown was an adventure that could be filled with wonder. Even the unknowns I did not get to choose. Reminded me that I need to remember that…

Probably one of the most unique novels I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, Life of Pi deftly fuses a plethora of elements that otherwise might seem incongruous: zoo culture, religious exploration, survivalism, and adventure, among others. Its attentiveness to biology, its colorful assault on the senses, and its imaginative elements of fantasy make this book a visceral experience as well as a contemplative one. Of all my assigned reading in high school, this one pulled me in with its enigmatic spell and will live forever in my mind and heart. 

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