Now I'm getting the chance to read books I didn't have time for before. Think of me whenever you see the slogan "So many books, so little time!" Now I've got the time.  Cheers, Fred.

Life of Pi

Book Number: 
Date Fred Read: 
July 2018
Fred's Rating: 
Yann Martel
Total Pages: 

Yann Martel, the son of diplomats, was born in Spain in 1963. He grew up in Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Alaska, and Canada and as an adult has spent time in Iran, Turkey, and India. He studied philosophy in college. He worked odd jobs until he began earning his living as a writer. This international bestseller won the Man Booker Prize and became a movie.

I have read the paperback edition but I give the Amazon website for the Kindle edition:

[None of the ISBN-10, ISBN-13, or ASIN numbers on Amazon’s websites for the three editions (Kindle, hardcover, or paperback) are recognized by Amazon, thus the ‘no image Circle' appears. I think this new change by Amazon is not good. However, you can see the images of this book's covers at the website above.]

The home page of the Kindle edition has a short summary (click on ‘Read more’). However, I liked the shorter summary from the paperback edition, so I give it in full:

“The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

“The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional--but is it more true?”

There is a 6-pp Author’s note that is given in full in the Kindle edition. It is well worth reading because it tells you much about the author and sets you up for this excellent novel. The Kindle edition also contains in full the first two chapters and nearly all of Chapter 3. I feel that reading online the above material will make most readers want to read this excellent novel.

The book has three parts. Part One – Toronto and Pondicherry – consists of 91 pages of background information about Pi. It establishes the character of Pi and thus prepares you well for the big adventure of Part Two – The Pacific Ocean, which is well summarized in the second paragraph of the online summary I gave above. The 190-pp of Part Two is the great adventure, which is the major part of the movie, which should not be surprising, for it is, after all, an adventure movie for all ages.

The 31-pp of Part Three – Benito, Juarez, Infirmary, Tomatlan, Mexico – focuses on two stories. Two Japanese men, associated with the ship that sunk, interview Pi who is in an infirmary recovering from his ordeal of months in the lifeboat. They want him to tell them why the ship sank, which Pi can’t do. First he tells them of the experience he endured during these months in the Pacific Ocean. They don’t believe him, so when they return he makes up a story involving only humans, both villains and victims. They buy this story, or seem to prefer it. Part Three is excellent satire, which I’m sure the author had fun writing. I’m glad the author included this satire. I feel that there is more to the book than what the movie creates because of the book’s Parts One and Three. I rate this book at five stars – it is a hard-to-put-down fiction to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.