Culture

BOOK REVIEW The Life of Pi

Picture floating across the ocean, losing all sense of time and sharing a life raft with an adult male Bengal tiger. Witty and imaginative, Yann Martel weaves the story of a 16-year-old boy who crosses the seas with only animal companions after the cargo ship he was traveling on sinks, leaving him as the sole survivor.

A descriptive and intimate story of survival, The Life of Pi is a moving story about coming of age, transformation and spiritual survival. The son of a zoo keeper, Pi Patel begins his life in Pondicherry, India where he spends his time with the animals and practicing three different religions. After deciding to move to Canada, Pi, his family and the animals of the zoo board a freight ship that later sinks into the abyss of the Pacific Ocean. Left to fend for himself, Pi shares a 16-foot lifeboat with Richard Parker, the 450-pound Bengal Tiger and a few other animals who later become Richard Parker’s feast. Together, struggling for survival and dominance, the pair spend 227 days floating in the Pacific Ocean. Gathering nourishment from the natural foods of the sea, Pi narrates the days and their hallucinations, harrowing adventures with shark-infested waters, and stormy weather.

Only the second novel of author Yann Martel and already a bestseller, The Life of Pi is an enchanting novel that proves to be a favorite; it’s easy to read over and over again.

Joanna Davila can be contacted at j.davila1@umiami.edu.

September 24, 2004

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