December 01, 2007

Book Review: Life of Pi

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Far apart from romance, thrills and those chills, this book by Yann Martel is a simple and humorous tale of a young boy who travels like no one has ever travelled before. Pi Partel (spelled Pye) is a sixteen year old boy whose father owns a zoo in Pondicherry, India, and decides to migrate to Canada. On their way to Canada, the ship sinks leaving only five survivors in a solitary lifeboat: Pi Patel, a hyena, an injured zebra, an orang-utan and a 450 pound Royal Bengal Tiger. What ensues is a remarkable tale of survival, endurance and perseverance. Necessity is the mother of invention and that is certainly one of the writer’s messages. The earlier part of the book deals with Pi’s life in Pondicherry; his acceptance and tolerance of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity which drives his parents mad and his adventures in the zoo. The major portion of the novel describes his amazing journey: how a pampered boy survives hunger, thirst, cold and manages to overcome his fear of a ferocious tiger. The best part is that although the boy and the tiger reach an unspoken agreement about their positions on the boat, they donot become best buddies; the writer makes it clear that tigers are wild animals and will remain so till the end of time. The book is not interspersed with difficult words or lengthy monologues. It has just the right proportions of humour, suspense, tragedy and action. Animal lovers will treasure the description of zoo life while Joseph Conrad’s fans will find the description of the sea enchanting. The book is the winner of the Man Booker Prize 2002 and in my opinion a must read.

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