Life of Pi

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Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

October 10, 2002 | Trade Paperback

Life of Pi is rated 4.0385 out of 5 by 156.
Life of Pi is a masterful and utterly original novel that is at once the story of a young castaway who faces immeasurable hardships on the high seas, and a meditation on religion, faith, art and life that is as witty as it is profound. Using the threads of all of our best stories, Yann Martel has woven a glorious spiritual adventure that makes us question what it means to be alive, and to believe.

Growing up in Pondicherry, India, Piscine Molitor Patel -- known as Pi -- has a rich life. Bookish by nature, young Pi acquires a broad knowledge of not only the great religious texts but of all literature, and has a great curiosity about how the world works. His family runs the local zoo, and he spends many of his days among goats, hippos, swans, and bears, developing his own theories about the nature of animals and how human nature conforms to it. Pi’s family life is quite happy, even though his brother picks on him and his parents aren’t quite sure how to accept his decision to simultaneously embrace and practise three religions -- Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam.

But despite the lush and nurturing variety of Pi’s world, there are broad political changes afoot in India, and when Pi is sixteen his parents decide that the family needs to escape to a better life. Choosing to move to Canada, they close the zoo, pack their belongings, and board a Japanese cargo ship called the Tsimtsum. Travelling with them are many of their animals, bound for zoos in North America. However, they have only just begun their journey when the ship sinks, taking the dreams of the Patel family down with it. Only Pi survives, cast adrift in a lifeboat with the unlikeliest of travelling companions: a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Thus begins Pi Patel’s epic, 227-day voyage across the Pacific, and the powerful story of faith and survival at the heart of Life of Pi. Worn and scared, oscillating between hope and despair, Pi is witness to the playing out of the food chain, quite aware of his new position within it. When only the tiger is left of the seafaring menagerie, Pi realizes that his survival depends on his ability to assert his own will, and sets upon a grand and ordered scheme to keep from being Richard Parker’s next meal.

As the days pass, Pi fights both boredom and terror by throwing himself into the practical details of surviving on the open sea -- catching fish, collecting rain water, protecting himself from the sun -- all the while ensuring that the tiger is also kept alive, and knows that Pi is the key to his survival. The castaways face gruelling pain in their brushes with starvation, illness, and the storms that lash the small boat, but there is also the solace of beauty: the rainbow hues of a dorado’s death-throes, the peaceful eye of a looming whale, the shimmering blues of the ocean’s swells. Hope is fleeting, however, and despite adapting his religious practices to his daily routine, Pi feels the constant, pressing weight of despair. It is during the most hopeless and gruelling days of his voyage that Pi whittles to the core of his beliefs, casts off his own assumptions, and faces his underlying terrors head-on.

As Yann Martel has said in one interview, “The theme of this novel can be summarized in three lines. Life is a story. You can choose your story. And a story with an imaginative overlay is the better story.” And for Martel, the greatest imaginative overlay is religion. “God is a shorthand for anything that is beyond the material -- any greater pattern of meaning.” In Life of Pi, the question of stories, and of what stories to believe, is front and centre from the beginning, when the author tells us how he was led to Pi Patel and to this novel: in an Indian coffee house, a gentleman told him, “I have a story that will make you believe in God.” And as this novel comes to its brilliant conclusion, Pi shows us that the story with the imaginative overlay is also the story that contains the most truth.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 7.98 × 5.19 × 0.79 in

Published: October 10, 2002

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676973779

ISBN - 13: 9780676973778

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Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Classic Read I read Life of Pi by Yann Martel just because the movie was coming out. I had also heard that is was an incredible read and wanted to see what all of the buzz was about. However, once I started reading, I found that I was disappointed with the novel and began to wonder if I just wasn’t getting what everyone else found so amazing. I believe that it had a great story line but as Pi was stuck in the middle of the ocean for most of the story I found it very slow. Sure, there is only so much you can write about a guy stranded on a boat with a tiger but I found the events a bit repetitive and uneventful. I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning and the end and thought it was beautifully written but found that I got bored during the middle portion. I think this section could have been cut down or written in more detail to keep the reader captivated and interested. It was incredible though to see how a teenager could keep themselves alive in the middle of the ocean with next to no supplies. I know I wouldn’t be able to do that! I believe that this novel is a hit or miss with readers. You either really love it or find yourself in my shoes thinking this novel is so-so. Don’t get me wrong; this is a novel that you must read and will soon be referred to as a classic. However, if you’re like me and like action-packed novels that just keep going and going, this novel may not be for you. In the end, even though I may not be a huge fan of this book, I would still recommend it. Who knows, maybe, like some of the people I know, this will become one of your favourite novels.
Date published: 2014-08-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Regret I bought this Found the book tedious to read and not the kind of book that captured interest. The most interesting part was at the beginning about the zoo and the religions. Our book club read and all our members had the same perspective - however, we forced ourselves through the book based ono the fact that it was a Heather's Pick.
Date published: 2014-05-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good, but not Great Read for me Many people consider this book a classic and while the story is written very well and there's a good story here, I have to say that the first 100 pages were actually quite boring. The second half of the book was much more interesting and even then, when I got to the end I wasn't blown away. I saw the movie shortly after reading the book and this was one of the few times where I felt the movie was actually better than the book. It's a good read but not a must-read in my opinion
Date published: 2014-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breathtaking Absolutely breathtaking novel. I couldn't put it down after starting it and had to see the movie as soon as it came out.
Date published: 2014-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved it I cried , I laughed, makes one appreciate what you have...don't sweat the small stuff... it sure could be worse.
Date published: 2014-06-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from could have been better..... i was expecting. it has great reviews. parts were slow and dragged a bit. on the other hand parts were extremely engaging and pulled you in. book is broken into 3 parts and each part has it's ups and downs. there's definitely a twist to the end that i don't think anyone would suspect. martel does an incredible job of painting a picture of the safe boat in the middle of pacific ocean. interesting read, but was expecting something else. combo of castaway, bear grllys and david suski stuck in the ocean.
Date published: 2014-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enchanting read... I had been lamenting my inability to really "get into" any new books lately. I'd gone through half a dozen, at least! Starting them, struggling, just not feeling the magic and promptly replacing them on the bookshelf. I was just about ready to give in and resort to re-reading one of my old loves when I decided to give Life of Pi a chance. It was just the magic I had been seeking, devoured in a weekend. It is a lovely balance of adventure, human endurance and spirit, humour and a boy's love of life and God. Although certainly thought provoking (particularly at the end) it is not oppressively so. I will be adding Life of Pi to my "favourites shelf" along with my list of reccommended reads for friends, young and old.
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved Part Two & Three Felt part one was kinda dull and not really that significant yet we do get a sense of who Pi is as a character. The fun begins at part two. I really enjoyed reading this book but at times to do felt it was draggy but the ending definitely made up for the time. I really left me shocked and speechless. Overall a great book to read.
Date published: 2014-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing One of the best books I've ever read. This is a great adventure, and would be good to read even if you've already seen the movie, as the book has some much more detail about the relationship between Pi and Richard Parker, and about Pi's feelings. I'm not religious, and the book did not bog me down with religion at all, so don't be concerned with that . Just enjoy a well-written, interesting story, written by a Canadian!
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Story for the Ages! Read this tale of biblical proportions in a week. Who could resist a book about a boy lost in the ocean with a tiger and a wild assortment of other animals? My apprehensions that this novel could be a slow read given that it really is a one-character story was swept away. The ending of the story gives us much food for thought on the issue of faith and the truth. Cannot wait for November to see the film adaptation.
Date published: 2014-06-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from loved it!! I loved this book! Its a great story about a boy's survival through a terribly unfortunate event with only a tiger as a companion. Though the book does drag for a bit in the middle, it quickly picks up and becomes even more interesting near the end.
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent This is truly as excellent as people have told me it is. I always take others reviews with a grain of salt, as things tend to get overblown, but this one was fabulous. I really enjoyed the writing style, the storyline and the ending, of course, is brilliant. Definitely read this book.
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing There is no use in trying to provide a brief synopsis for this ravishing tale of a young boy from India left adrift in the Pacific in a lifeboat with a tiger who used to reside in his father’s zoo in Pondicherry. There is no use because once you finish the book you might decide that this was not, indeed, what the book was about at all. There is no use because, depending on your philosophical bent, the book will mean something very different to your best friend than it will to you. There is no use because it is nearly impossible to describe what makes this book so grand. Read this book. Not because it is an exceptional piece of literary talent. It is, of course. But there are many good authors and many good books. While uncommon, they are not endangered. Read this book because in recent memory - aside from Jose Saramago’s arresting Blindness – there have been no stories which make such grand statements with such few elements. As Pi says in his story “Life on a lifeboat isn’t much of a life. It is like an end game in chess, a game with few pieces. The elements couldn’t be more simple, nor the stakes higher.” It is the same with Martel’s undulating fable of a book about a boy in a boat with a tiger. A simple story with potentially life altering consequences for it’s readers.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Absolutely Great I finished reading Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, in four weeks. The book has been out for four years now, and I’ve wanted to read it ever since I first heard of it. Life of Pi is an incredible story of a 16 year old Indian boy that explains how he survived being on a lifeboat with a royal Bengal tiger, an orangutan, a hyena and a zebra for many months. Yann Martel keeps the story of Pi's long voyage moving at an interesting pace. This is a book worth reading if you ever have the chance.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Incredibly clever and powerful! Life of Pi, by Yann Martel is without a shadow of doubt my favourite novel I have ever read. This story kept me from putting the book down and going to sleep, Yann Martel truly knows how to captivate his readers. This novel contains an amazing tale of survival and reality of a young boy named Piscine Molitor Patel, it shows what isolation and the will to survive can really do to a person. I personally recommend this book 100%!
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too Much too Soon Life of Pi is a story quite different from others I have read. It involves so many different themes and messages ranging from spiritual beliefs, the likeness between human and animal and our tendencies to "create" stories to restore hope into our lives. The spiritual side of the story was endearing because I struggle to find a common ground with religion too, as did Pi. The conclusion that Pi comes to, that relgion is love, gives me peace. Aside from that, this story is somewhat confusing because of the so frequent back and forth of narration between Pi and the author. It is also quite gruesome, so much so that it was hard to read. I recommend this book to readers with an open mind because this book discusses concepts that are sensitive such as religion.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Inspiring! I really enjoyed this book and it was an entertaining story. The idea of animals on a lifeboat somehow stabilizing into the equilibrium it did was the most interesting part, to me. But honestly, I'd have to say that this novel made me think about my beliefs... I liked it, but nothing really "moved" me in the story. I reccomend others to read this book if they want to get in touch with their spiritual side.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Read This was an interesting read but sadly did not live up to the hype for me. it's a very unique book and I definitely had never read anything like this before but some of the content was a bit much for me.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book by great Canadian writer! Amazing book! The writing is engaging, and the plot is unpredictable. It's the kind of book that makes you go "wow" after you've turned the last page. The fact that Yann Martel is Canadian is a bonus.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not for the faint of heart... Where do I start? The first section of the novel I found myself extremely bored and had a very hard time reading it. It is filled with page descriptions of things that need no more than a couple sentences to explain. I did not become attached to the character at all and I found myself wondering why this book received so much praise. I would give this section a 1 star rating. The second part of the novel is disgusting. Now, I am not squeamish by any means but I found reading a 3 page description on how to kill a turtle (for example) a bit much. The story becomes gruesome and MUCH too descriptive of things that will make your stomach turn. I do not want to give anything away, but be warned, if you do not like blood, guts and animal mutilation I would not read this book. The novel was very well researched and for the most part this section is well written and as such I would give this a section 2.5-3 star rating. I will say nothing about the third part as I wish not to spoil the book for people who have no read it yet, but I will say that the overall feel when I finished the book was disgust. This is not usually how I like to feel when I finish a novel. I will say that there were some parts of the book that I found myself interested in and the book is creative, I will give it that, but it was much like a rollercoaster filled with ups and downs. Overall I was disappointed in this book and I would not recommend it. I would not deem this book "terrible", I just felt the story could have been better. I feel the creativeness and acuracy of the animal portrayals did indeed save this book from a complete slandering on my part.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I read this book when it first came out during a fall power outage. As I read the book I'd become so drawn in that I'd feel hungry when Pi was hungry, too warm when he was warm, thirsty, and I'd feel like I could smell the salt. It had a rich setting- not so much that it was boring or easy to not pay attention to. I hear it's being made into a movie and I sincerely hope they do a good job.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from too good not to be real If you had told me at the start of this book that I was going to read a story about a man living in a life boat for almost a year with a full grown Bengal Tiger, and that I was going to believe every word of it, I would have thought you were crazy. By the middle of the book, I found that I was so drawn into Pi's life, that I totally believed every word. That this had truly happened and that Pi had in fact lived with this huge, ferocious tiger. Even now, a few weeks later I am still convinced that this could have happened. I am not the only reader to fall under Mr. Martel's spell. Readers all over the world have been searching the internet for the location of the Pondicherry Zoo, and some in India and saying it would be a good move to start such a zoo. I didn't think I would be so captivated by a story about a man and tiger, but the descriptions of taming the tiger held me motionless. I listened to this as an audio book. At times I would arrive at my destination and sit in my car listening for a few more minutes rather than turn off the oratation. I was late for more than a few events as a result. I particularly enjoyed the section of the book when young Pi was visiting three different religious leaders and learning about Hindu, Christian and Muslim beliefs. I applaud Mr. Martel for his wonderful handling of this topic. He presented each relgion in a such a caring way that I could clearly see why Pi was attacted to each. A little more of this appoach in the real world could have profound positive impacts. I listened to the unabridged audio version by HighBridge Company. It was read by Jeff Woodman and Alexander Marshall. Length: 11 hours and 35 minutes.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved I loved this book! some slow parts but totally happy i continued...great ending**
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant Life of Pi was an unexpected love. Reading into the first few chapters of the novel I instantly fell in love with the character Pi. His unusual yet innocent nature allowed me to continue reading the book with great interest. Even though I found myself cringing with some of the very descriptive animal details I still refused to look away. The ending was a huge surprise to me! I started to question everything that happened which made it more enjoyable. Trust me when I say, you will not be disappointed.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful and Cunning This fiction tells a remarkable story that is full of surprises and wonder. Written by an expect storyteller in such a way that makes everything even the unbelievable sound credible. The novel is divided in three sections: The first section recounts a fictional writer’s interaction with PI. Pi tells his childhood story of growing up as a son of a zookeeper in Pondicherry India and learning a lot about animals, their ways, emotions and traits. In his teens, on a quest to understand who God is, Pi immerses himself into the beliefs practiced by Christians, Muslims and Hindus. A tug of war erupts when the leaders of these religions groups discover Pi’s activities and Pi’s own brother sarcastically adds another aspect when he suggests that Pi should also embrace Judaism… Section two continues at a steady and interesting pace. Pi and his family decide to close the zoo and immigrate to Canada; the animals are placed in zoos around the world. The family and many animals are transported on a Japanese cargo ship, a trip that will open a whole new experience for each one of them. Not long into the voyage, disaster strikes and the ship sinks. Pi is cast adrift in a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. In this part of the story, the author dazzles us with literary prose captivating ones imagination to its extreme. The 227 days Pi spent at sea is a constant test of survival in cramped quarters…the ultimate cat and mouse scenario… In section three, Pi finally reaches the coast of Mexico where Japanese authorities are anxious to interrogate him on the loss of their ship. The Japanese investigators have trouble believing his story so Pi replaces each animal with human attributes and gives them names. At the end, the investigators are left totally confused and with conflicted opinions on what really happened. “Life of Pi “is a wonderful and cunning novel that is entertaining, eye opening and thought provoking.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A very interesting read! Interesting and creative story with lots of imagination. Take your time and enjoy the details that the story is filled with
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Oh Boy I don't know what everyone sees in this book. I thought it was A PAIN to read. I don't find it clever, and I hated the pace. That whole two-toed and three-toed sloth discription make me want to rip out my hair.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beutiful Life of Pi is, thus far, the magnum opus of Yann Martel. Since its release in 2003 the beautifully tragic story of Pi has been retold countless times. Life of Pi is characterized by Martel's gorgeous blend of despair, hope, and wit. There is not a dull moment to be found from cover to cover; this novel begs to be read, and begs to be reflected upon and so it deserves.
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Don't Give Up on It! I was 12 years old when I read "Life of Pi" (now 13) and at first I couldn't put it down. There is just something about it that is entertaining and refreshing. By the middle, I was starting to get a little bit bored. Now I COULD put it down. I was waiting for things to pick up and get more exciting. I am very, very glad I decided to keep going with this book dispite the dull part. It really makes you think about Pi Patel and his journey being stranded on a lifeboat. Will he survive? And why hasnt the tiger been dangerous to him? I would recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure, interesting scenarios, and enjoys a book that leaves a lasting impression in your mind. Don't let those slow moving chapters fool you-an amazing story is soon to begin.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pure Genius This book makes the impossible seem possible. I was taken from the beginning with the charm and innocence of it's main character a young Indian boy. By the end of the book I am impressed with how he has grown and how I feel that I can do the same impossible task as he had done. This should be the end of the book and then in the final part I was just baffled, in a good way, as what I had been reading and questioning all over again. It's a journey I'll take over and over again.
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Magical....for the most part Told in two parts...Life of Pi is an interesting premise. The first half of the novel is a philosophical and almost abstract storyline that is painful to get through but if you can push through, the second half of the story is simply magic! Well-written, it had me sitting on pins and needles as I devoured the text. There are a few uncomfortable moments but these come together with the rest of the text seamlessly to create a story that seems as real as the paper it is written on.
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Life Of Pi This book was utterly captivating. It has an interesting view on religion and what it means to have faith. However that is only in the beginning of this wonderful rendition of a story unlike anything i have ever read before. By the end of this book, that will be hard to put down in the first place, you will be asking yourself "What really happened??"
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbelievably Believable To read the synopsis on the back cover of this book, you'd wonder what you were getting into: a 16 year old Indian boy adrift in a lifeboat on the Pacific ocean with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and a 450 pound Bengal tiger. The story is so well told, and you learn so much about animal behaviour, that you'd believe this unbelievable story actually took place. Until he lands on a strange island. That's when he lost me. But it was an entertaining story of man-against-nature, man-against-beast, man-against-man, and even man-against-himself. I thought Pi's attempts at finding God by embracing three religions simultaneously was ludicrous, as they believe things completely opposite to one another. However, in spite of those two things, I would recommend this book. I can see why it won the awards it did.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Hated It and Loved It Page 1 - 103 = 1 star Page 105 -354 = 5 STARS I absolutely hated the start of this book. It had no impact and extremely little meaning to the rest of the book. If you want to read the story that everyone talks about, and that the back describes, skip right to page 105. Believe me, you can do this and you wont miss a thing.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of a kind Where else can you find a book about animals and humans competing to survive on a lifeboat? Amazing, the ending shocked me.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A magical book! Besides having an interesting story, my favorite books contain symbolic depth, resonance, and a generous sprinkle of what can only be described as "magic". A "magic" novel is one in which the author has told us of events that do not align with our conventional experiences and logic, yet has done so in such a convincing fashion that we believe we may be hearing the truth. Yann Martel's "Life of Pi" is such a novel. Imagine being stranded for 227 days on a life-boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Now imagine having to share that life-boat with a tiger, a hyena, a orangutan, and a zebra. Utterly ridiculous, isn't it? Yet somehow, Martel convinces us that it just might be possible to survive it after all. Magical story-telling. The beginning of the novel provides details of the main character's childhood, including his unusual personal decision to combine three religions; Catholicism, Hinduism, and Islam. This is important because the remainder of this adventure challenges and confirms the doctrines of all these faiths. But in the end, Pi understands that the authorities may not be able to take the leap of faith required to believe such a fantastic story and, almost out of sympathy, provides them (and the readers) with a second, more plausible accounting of his ordeal. Which version are you prepared to believe? An interesting background note is on the name chosen for the Bengal tiger in the story, Richard Parker. Richard Parker was an actual person who had the misfortune of being a cabin boy on the yacht Mignonette, sunk off the coast of Western Africa on 1884. The entire four man crew, including Captain Tom Dudley, escaped to a life-boat where they drifted with little food and water for the next nineteen days. At that point, the three men killed and ate the 17 year-old Parker. Five days later, they were rescued and returned to England, where they were put on trial for murder. What happened to them? There is a very good book on the entire true story of Richard Parker, called "The Custom of the Sea" by Neil Hanson. If you're interested, I can lend you a copy. In "Life of Pi" Martel has paid homage to the real Richard Parker by giving him his reincarnation as a 450 pound Bengal Tiger. Now the hunted has become the hunter!
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Definately worth the read! This is a very interesting novel to read. Ive read it twice! I especially loved the ending. The reader is left with two stories to pick from in the end. The one thats been described throughout the novel, or the one that Pi (the main character of the novel) tells the investigators. I can guarantee you that this book will have you discussing with others what they think of the story and especially what conclusion to pick for the stories ending!
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Philosophical Realism I bought this book several years ago but believe or not I never got a chance to read it until a few days ago. And I'm wondering why now, since the "Life of Pi" is one of the best contemporary fictional novels I've ever read. Since most already know the plot, I will just comment on the writing style and greater philosophical questions that Martel's book engages. Fundamentally, the book is about faith. What is faith, and does faith exist outside of institutionalized religion? I found Martel's metaphorical use of Pi's ambivalence and ambiguity over organized religion with the contemporary post-modern obfuscation over issues of faith to be ingenious and thought-provoking. Then there is the philosophical question over allegorical scripture. How stories within institutionalized religion are memorialized and notions of literal interpretation or allegorical. This all of course parallels debates between fundamentalists and contextualists. The writing style is raw, gritty, and uncensored. Certainly many readers will recoil at many parts, but I think a contemporary novel like this can exist without such realism. After all, this isn't a children's book, but an adult book with adult themes, therefore, it should reflect that reality. Martel is a great storyteller and writes in a very fluid style and is great at building suspense. Whether you like the writing or not, I think the greater philosophical questions that "Life of Pi" asks cannot be ignored. It confronts fundamental issues of faith which remain as relevant today as they have ever been. Definitely a must read book.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mesmerizing Yann Martel is truly a master story-teller. I read this book through, totally absorbed in the story and unable to put it down until it was resolved. Once I got to the end, I couldn't help myself. I had to read it over again! Trust me, you will want to keep a copy of Life of Pi in your permanent reading library. Better to invest in a hardcover edition right away.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Bizarre, but great! A very different story from anything you'll read, but I loved it!
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Animal Instincts Martel crafts an ingenious story of a boy lost at sea with several dangerous animals on board a raft. Filled with great philosophical insights and humor, this book is sure to be devoured by an hungry reader who enjoys books that are well-researched, well-imagined and well-developed. Martel deserves his fame.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Oh Pi, your poor disillusioned life! I am conflicted over what to think about 'Life of Pi'. On one hand, I feel obliged to like it because how can one possibly resist a greatly raved all around, award-winning book with a nice cover, title and seemingly interesting synopsis, while on the other hand, I was terribly bored by it... till the last redeeming chapters. Martel definitely packed punches of intrigue and had moments of brilliantly well-written narratives. The storyline appeared fresh but soon turned stale - almost as though there wasn't a point in the novel, despite the story being on "Do you believe in God?" which should have plenty philosophical inputs, even rants. To a certain extent, it did, but I found them hard to absorb even though I usually get by these words of wisdom with ease and understanding. 'Life of Pi' quickly descended to an ordinary read of a boy stranded out at sea, trying to think deep thoughts, and oh, balancing survival in the company of a Bengal tiger, among others, aboard the lifeboat. It flipped a 180 towards the end, for which I'm satisfied with. Goosebumps all over, the conclusion left me dazed and wanting more. That divulgence made the book seem so much more cryptically bearable, although I did feel somewhat cheated. 'Pi' definitely deserves a chance - perhaps I was just not prepared to be as opened to reading between the lines. So when you ever get the urge to stop, (do take breaks and) read on for the closing writings, as to me, is worth even the most boring yet relevant read.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Renewed my love for reading This is the book I picked up years ago and have to thank for getting me excited about reading again. It's a great, interesting little story, and I loved it. I'm thankful for picking it up all those years ago, as I would have missed out on so many other wonderful books over the years.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absorbing I read this book for the first time in my English 12 class and was amazed. The ideas discussed in this novel are thought-provoking and I can guarantee that you will be at least mildly offended by one topic or another. I'm very thrilled that this novel won The Man Booker Prize and it is a great addition to any bookshelf.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites! Absolutely fantastic read - I couldn't put it down... can't wait until the film version is released.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from What's going on here? Here is a novel that got a lot of attention and really did very well. It's also ridiculous and not in the good way. One should beware of novels that have praise from Margaret Atwood splashed across the cover....first of all, the plot is absurd. Really, truly absurd. The characters are not likeable, and unpleasantly weird. (Weirdness can be very entertaining...such as in Tim Findley or Neil Gaiman's case) but this book is SO horrible, SO poorly constructed and SO BAD that anyone willing to spend money on this piece of garbage needs to be dragged kicking and screaming to a book store and forced to read fabulous things...(like "Spot of Bother" by Mark Haddon or "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen.) This was a terrible novel, and everyone who praised it so highly is wrong. Very, very wrong.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read I really enjoyed this book. It made me laugh out loud at a couple points as well as invoking deep thoughts in others. It was a book that one could easily slip into without major brain effort, but at the same time inspired a lot to chew on. I love that it was written by a Canadian.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING I recommend anyone who reads any type of genre to read this book. It doesn't matter if you like fantasy or only love story's this book is truly a classic. If you think your having a bad day, week, month, year whatever the case maybe your be happy with how your life is no matter how bad it is compared to what this guy went through. The book brought in real danger and real adventure in situations no one as ever thought of.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Very emotional, heart-touching.. In Life of Pi, Yann Martel has proven his descriptive skills to be as close to reality as it can get. Throughout the book, I thought I was reading a true story from Pi himsef. The book is also very informative, as the author has obviously done lots of research in Zoology, religion, and castaway survival. Overall, a well written book. It must have been a challenge for Martel, since two thirds of the book is solely about a boy and a tiger in a lifeboat. It really isn't easy to keep it interesting till the end. But he managed to do so.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best read in a decade I kept passing this book by in stores, turned off for some reason by the tiger on the cover. When I finally picked this up, I couldn't put it down. Did it deserve to win the Booker Prize? You bet. I cannot say enough good things or recommend this highly enough.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, but not for the faint of heart... Well written and certainly engaging, but graphically describes animals preying on other animals and can be a little sickening.
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's All About Perspective I'm sure you have seen the plot summaries by now if you are interested in 'Life of Pi' by Canadian author Yann Martel, so I'll continue to explain why you should read it. 'Life of Pi' is a cleverly written novel that focuses strongly on storytelling, and Martel is well aware of the impact this has on the reader. The language, awesome imagery, themes of religion, humanity, philosophy, adventure, survival, fear, and happiness, and the strong protagonist Pi make the novel extremely successful. I loved the language and words in Life of Pi. It's a book you actually come from, knowing that you gained something. The end of the book; you have to read it just for that. I was so shocked that I had to stop for a few minutes before proceeding. It's all about perspective. I was literally glued to the pages while reading. I highly recommend 'Life of Pi' to any reader, casual or not; to any fan of any genre. The novel is worth its price in full. Even if you don't like the plot, you can't deny that its not a good book.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Life of Pi ~ Yann Martel Life of Pi ~ Yann Martel This is a rather strange story of a young boy, a hyena, a zebra, an orang-utan and a Bengal tiger adrift on a lifeboat in the wild Pacific after the ship carrying them from India to Canada sinks. A little difficult to get into, however after the 1st chapter you are hooked, this story stays with you, long after you have finished reading it.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life of Pi People make the mistake of reading this book too literally-it has one of the greatest 'aha' moments of all time. Pi should be read with careful attention to the foreward-I'll tell you a story that will make you believe in God-and it does, for the most sensible and believeable reason of all-why not? It is the better story!
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Book This is an amazing book. The writing is wonderful, the characters seem so real you feel you know them and you get a real feel for the place and time. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Average I agree with the previous poster Catherine. This book is more or less average. Too bad it appeared even worse than average since I went into it with great expectations, thanks to the reviews.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Read A mezmorizing novel. Full of adventure!
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful If anything can make you want to believe in a higher power, it is this book. Simple and powerful, it brought me to tears. Pick it up - you won't regret it.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Life of Pi The Old Man and the Sea of modern times. Fantastic, on all accounts.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A monumental story told by a grand storyteller What a great book!!!! Highly recommended reading. Yan martel is one of the greatest writers of our time. This book is a testament to the human will.. it will make you cry... laugh... and cheer. The writing is superbly lucid and fluent; very easy to read. Three cheers for Pi Patel... and/or... Richard Parker.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from one word "blech" this book was by far the most awful book i have ever read, it does not deserve a single star, nor does it deserve to have ever been published, save yourself the money and go pick up some thing quality, and something that actually has a plot, this was a waste of my money.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh, could take it or leave it I do find it hard to believe how acclaimed this novel was, since the only parts that keep you interested are the beginning and end. The middle hundred pages of this novel were overly descriptive and bland, and I kept hoping something exciting would happen so that I wouldn't have to keep putting the book down and seeing my bookmark STILL in the pages. While the overall sentiment when you finish is satisfying, I found myself only feeling that because most of my friends had read it and because we all saw that it was an award winner and thus obviously worthy of our praise.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from this won the Booker Prize? The main flaw of 'The Life of Pi' is obvious to anyone who's read the book, regardless of whether they want to admit it or not. There simply isn't enough story, character or idea to fill a novel. 'The Life of Pi' is based on one gimmick and has only one developed character. And despite an overlong beginning that tries to flesh things out, it's all too clear that you're only reading the novel for its final third. The rest is filler and, while sometimes interesting (the parts on animal behaviour and zoos are fun to read), seems to be there only because, well, other books have beginnings and no one will buy a sixty-page novel. In a cruel twist, the best-written and most rewarding part of the first half of the book is the prologue, in the neat form of an author's note. Another problem is the writing style. Martel writes literature in a way that calls attention to itself as literature, instead of just telling a story. As a result, too many parts of the novel are self-important pedantic and wordy. It's a good thing that he has some talent, sometimes his style works, and the book starts to flow and becomes a pleasure to read. These moments are just too rare to elevate the thin story.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great! Very interesting, intriguing, and thought-provoking. I enjoyed the author's style of writing and the wayt that he intertwined philosophical teachings with action and adventure. A little slow at some points but highly recommended nonetheless!
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not that great I read it because there was so much hype about it and how it was a good book, but I really didn't find it all that good or interesting.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gripping! I love this book, the second I picked it up, I started reading, and reading, and reading, and never stopped until I finished. Martel writes this book amazingly. THe story is one of survival, and unlikely bonding. This book is good for everybody!
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Read this book! This book is so masterfully written that you will be taken completely by surprise by the ending. Sometimes you will be given a whole lot of extraneous information about things which probably are not that key to the book. Hang in there through this stuff as the end will not disappoint.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding This had to be one of the best Canadian, it not, one of the best books that I have ever read. Yann Martel keeps you on the edge of your toes, as you float through each chapter filled with suspense, and thought provoking adventure. This book reminds you of Robinson Crusoe and Mutiny of the Bounty. I like how Yann starts with an intoduction to lead you up to Pi's family's departure for Canada,and his knowledge of animals that helps you to understand how Pi responds to his ship mates. Then throws you a twist at the end which really gets you thinking. I highly recommend this book to anyone, you will not be dissappointed. I will read it again and again. A reader will not be able to put this book down.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Book By Far! I've read a fair number of books in my day, but none have even come close to Yann Martel's absolute masterpiece, Life of Pi. The most original book I have ever come across, and as entertaining and funny as any book could dream of being. The wealth of knowledge and facts about animals and various religions adds a ton and a half of credibility to the narrator. But above all, like a sweet sweet sweet cherry on the top of an incredible cake, is an ending that absolutly and totally blew my mind. To this day I cannot think about the ending of this book without grinning and shaking my head in disbelief.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An excellent story I read this recently and loved it... very well written and it held me captive for a few days.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Strong Emotions I just didn't get it. Perhaps I'll approach it again when I've read everything else in the store .... I just found is frustrating and confusing.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read Hey, I can't really call my self an avid reader, i read about 2 months a book or so. So i read an average amount and have read my share of books. This book has earned a spot in my top 3. I love this book, there were times where i couldn't put the book down. I'd stay up till 3 or 4 reading this book simply because i was too into the story. It got my adredaline running, it got me thinking and it was good enough that i got goose bumps...4 times. If you are looking for an amazing book that will easily get you hooked this is a must get. Hope you get it and enjoy it, Imad
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good I admit that as I was reading this book, I found that it was quite easy to put it down, but that minutes after, I was fishing it out again, because it was tickling my interest. Agreed it's not the best book ever, but it's still somewhat interesting. There are definitely religious themes, and anthropological ones, and geographical and zoological too. And though I found that this book did not reflect my own beliefs, nor did it change them, I found it interesting. Personally, I don't seek out only books that reflect or feed me back my own opinion. The plot line is none-existant, but that is because the point of interest is the character and his internal dialogue and process.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent book The book was not what I expected at all, it was 100 times better. I loved the way it was written, desciptives were excellent. I actually felt all the tension of being trapped on the boat in the middle of the ocean with a tiger and a hyena. It felt so real I could smell the blood and fear.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Creative & Entertaining A great read. It's an unconventional story about unlikely cast aways that will leave you tempted to believe in miracles. Beautifully written and never dull.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome This book was a really cool read. This is an adventure that stretches your imagination.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Peacefully Extravagant Life Of Pi is a beautifully insightful piece of literature which brought me a great sense of peace as I read. Much of this peace resulted from reading the first half of the novel, and a sense of security followed with the second half. It truly is a life-changing book. I sat outside after dinner and read as nature subtly made itself known around me. This, to me, was peace. It has inspired me to become a more tranquil individual, and to observe more closely the nature of animals, as well as our own species. Nothing else I have ever read even compares to Life Of Pi. Brilliant.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable read I really enjoyed the entire book except the ending was a little unsettling. I would reccommend this book to anyone.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unexpectedly Alluring I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book but it turned out to be amazing. I couldn't put it down and when I was nearing the end I didn't want it to be over. Exciting and thought-provoking, this is one book everyone should have in their collection.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely must read!! Heard this was a great book so I thought I'd read it. After the first couple of chapters, I was having a hard time getting into it and thought I was in for a big dissappointment. WAS I WRONG!! Halfway into the book I was hooked. I'm not going to tell you the best thing about the book ...made it worth every single red cent I spent on it plus more!!! You'll just have to read it yourself :-)
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Story Worth It's Rewards Brilliantly, Yann Martel captivates a cast-away survival tale of a boy nicknamed Pi: Young and strong-minded, however toppled with contemporary self-commitments to Christianity, Hinduism, and Islamic beliefs evokes social controversy to his life. Misfortuned to face the ultimate ordeal of survival, Pi becomes trapped on a lifeboat with shortage of supplies, a panorama of nothing but water and sky, and imposed by fate to share 'living' space' with a wild dangerous adult Bengal tiger. The astounding storytelling unfolds the chemicals of courage, hardship, and the feeling of struggle for life. Martel conveys the importance of understanding the function of religion and how Pi had use this as his greatest weapon to preserve the '-self' of himself. The reading can somewhat seem elongated due to the natural conjugation of survival stories and sometimes straightforward events. However, I recommend this award-winning literature to any reader who has any thoughts or interests of religion at any measures: religous, agnostic, or even atheist. The remarkable hidden messages and concepts resting in the literature shadows of Martel's "Life of Pi" beautifully establish an allurement for human knowledge and makes the road worth the walk.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stays with you for months This was a hard book to put down after I finished it. The feeling of rolling on water, the hot sun always beating down, the endless horizon, stayed with me for a long time after I was done. I was so immersed in this novel, I had to make an effort to remember it was a book. Simply one of the best books I have ever read!
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing book.. Liked it from the first page. the whole book just grabs your attention and takes you through the "Life of Pi." It will make you think, be happy, and feel so sad at the same time. You will feel you are riding a long. Here's to you Yann Martel, on an amazing peice of literature.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must Read I am so glad this book was suggested to me to read. It was absolutly amazing. A bit slow at the start, but once the adventure begins it captivated me till the very end. Fantastic, amazing, great...a must read.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read This was a very fascinating book. Although the first part of the book is a bit slow, when you get into the meat of the journey, it is truly an amazing novel to read. I would definitely read it again!! Highly recommended to everyone.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I really could not put it down When I started reading the book I found it slow and hard to get into. But I quickly got used to the unique style of storytelling and was enchanted by Pi's character and stories. I found it to be an easy read; very light in spirit (there was at least one "laugh-out-loud" moment in the book) despite Pi's tragic circumstances and ended in a touching way that left the reader with a few things to ponder. I would recommend this book to anyone. I only wish I read it sooner.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very creative This book was highly imaginative and the ending will leave you with questions to debate with others.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life Changing! I read a great deal and this is by far my favourite book. Reading it can only be described as a life-changing experience. No one should go without reading "Life of Pi" at least once in their lifetime. Yann Martel is a literary genius and I think this book will become a classic that will be read by many generations.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible & Inspiring! I just finished Life of Pi and I still cannot get it out of my thoughts. Wow. It's an incredible story and certainly a humbling one. I'm sure my jaw was dropped for half of the book. Once you finish the main story and find yourself at the ending be prepared to be shocked again. Life of Pi covers all emotions and will even make you laugh at times. It left me speechless. I was disappointed to be finished. I would recommend Life of Pi to everyone. It truly provides a first hand look at how amazing the human spirit can be when you believe.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Tough Going I struggled with this book. Maybe because I had heard so many fantastic things about it. I was unimpressed but ploughed through nonetheless. All in all, the book is not bad - I just wouldn't give it a rave review. The one question that continues to stay with me is Yann Matel's apparent dislike for agnostics and minimal repect for atheists. At one point, the author says that at the time of death an agnostic will find god and an agnostic will still be analyzing and trying to decide. The whole book is about staying true to your beliefs - so what makes the atheist swing in the point of crisis?
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stunning This story claims that it will make you believe in God; it accomplishes that and so much more. It argues for the oneness of God, the unity of his religions and the oneness of mankind. This is a truly remarkable text. At the very least, it will touch your heart.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awe-inspiring Read!!! This novel was an outrageously extravagent book to read. It kept me on the edge of my sofa, always wrongfully guessing what was going to happen next. The strength of the survivor absolutely amazes me and inspires me. I recommend this book to anyone who loves to read and I encourage everyone to read it. The thrill and adventure never stops.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great mix of reality and fiction This was a very captivating read. Martel does a very good job of holding the readers attention throughout the entire book. With his mix of facts about zology and using situations that could very well happen in real life he keeps his audiance interested and wondering whether Pi is a "real boy" or not. Whether you are religious or not this book will give you a new outlook on things. It is a very good read especially for people like me with short attention spans!
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I LOVED THIS BOOK This is a wonderfully written book, with a use of language that keeps your mind actively 'seeing' the scenes described. It has a surprise ending that I loved, and intrigued me.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Life of Pi I found Life of Pi to be wonderful read. It got off to a little bit of a slow start but once I dove further into the novel I found it so compelling and iteresting that it was hard for me to put down. As much as I loved this novel I think that how much someone will enjoy it will depend on many different things but none-the-less I enjoyed every word of the book when I read it when I was 13.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from animals as metaphors I resisted the book for a while, but I'm glad that I read it. The story is well written and unusual. The metaphor that the author has created is quite thought provoking. If you pick(ed) this book up with the intention of having everything spelled out for you, you will be disappointed. This is a book for the considerate-minded - more philosphy than a brochure for spirituality.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not as excited about this book as everyone else is Parts of this book dragged on unecessarily and felt too long for my liking. On the issue of spirituality, I find that the book offers an open-minded approach of the concept of religion and spirituality, however falls short of inspiring the reader to contemplate such matters. An amusing book at best, the humor was witty and sharp, but that's a far as I'll go in praising this book.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Horrible, and very boring this book just seemed to drag on it would never end. There is only so long a boy stuck on a boat doing the same thing everyday, can stay interesting. The book could have been 100 pages and got the story across. It woud drag in all places, there are little dialouge scenes in the book that have no place, some you never figure out why they are there. It tends to jump around alot, for the first half and a little of the second I thought Richard Parker was a man! It is not worth reading and I don't understand the hype, it doesn't even explore the religon aspect that much. Anyone who thinks this is some spiratual book about how wonderful life is and how god is amazing is very mistaken. It explains the religions and that is about it. You could find all the information on religion that was featured in this book and it would only take you 15 minutes to read. People are caught up in the hype of a boring, book that has nothing to do with religion, or anything for that matter.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Whatever . . . Life of Pi was a waste of time. I can't fathom why people raved about this book. A pseudo-intellectual potpourri of the meaning of life. Those who love the book are easily impressed. Glossy and pointless.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Excellent philosophy, average fiction This book puts religious belief in a new perspective. It also gives stark comparisons of seemingly unlike things. I would say Martel brings into light many difficult questions about human nature to ponder, many things that we SHOULD ponder. He, however, does not flesh out or resolve these issues, which might cause disgruntlement among some readers. I found the first part of the book to be most interesting, for what it taught or led you to question (the philosophy). The second, which is where the *fiction* kicked in, dragged on for far too long. While the goriness was a *necessity* for emphatic effectual expression of Martel's ideas, I thought the repetitiveness of similar events and gore to be too much... especially when one is reading this Christmas Eve! I think he would have gotten the exact same point across if Part 2 was half its length. Read this book for the questions, but don't expect the answers.
Date published: 2013-10-29

– More About This Product –

Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 7.98 × 5.19 × 0.79 in

Published: October 10, 2002

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676973779

ISBN - 13: 9780676973778

Read from the Book

Chapter 1 My suffering left me sad and gloomy. Academic study and the steady, mindful practice of religion slowly brought me back to life. I have remained a faithful Hindu, Christian and Muslim. I decided to stay in Toronto. After one year of high school, I attended the University of Toronto and took a double-major Bachelor’s degree. My majors were religious studies and zoology. My fourth-year thesis for religious studies concerned certain aspects of the cosmogony theory of Isaac Luria, the great sixteenth-century Kabbalist from Safed. My zoology thesis was a functional analysis of the thyroid gland of the three-toed sloth. I chose the sloth because its demeanour — calm, quiet and introspective — did something to soothe my shattered self. There are two-toed sloths and there are three-toed sloths, the case being determined by the forepaws of the animals, since all sloths have three claws on their hind paws. I had the great luck one summer of studying the three-toed sloth in situ in the equatorial jungles of Brazil. It is a highly intriguing creature. Its only real habit is indolence. It sleeps or rests on average twenty hours a day. Our team tested the sleep habits of five wild three-toed sloths by placing on their heads, in the early evening after they had fallen asleep, bright red plastic dishes filled with water. We found them still in place late the next morning, the water of the dishes swarming with insects. The sloth is at its busiest at sunset, using t
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From the Publisher

Life of Pi is a masterful and utterly original novel that is at once the story of a young castaway who faces immeasurable hardships on the high seas, and a meditation on religion, faith, art and life that is as witty as it is profound. Using the threads of all of our best stories, Yann Martel has woven a glorious spiritual adventure that makes us question what it means to be alive, and to believe.

Growing up in Pondicherry, India, Piscine Molitor Patel -- known as Pi -- has a rich life. Bookish by nature, young Pi acquires a broad knowledge of not only the great religious texts but of all literature, and has a great curiosity about how the world works. His family runs the local zoo, and he spends many of his days among goats, hippos, swans, and bears, developing his own theories about the nature of animals and how human nature conforms to it. Pi’s family life is quite happy, even though his brother picks on him and his parents aren’t quite sure how to accept his decision to simultaneously embrace and practise three religions -- Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam.

But despite the lush and nurturing variety of Pi’s world, there are broad political changes afoot in India, and when Pi is sixteen his parents decide that the family needs to escape to a better life. Choosing to move to Canada, they close the zoo, pack their belongings, and board a Japanese cargo ship called the Tsimtsum. Travelling with them are many of their animals, bound for zoos in North America. However, they have only just begun their journey when the ship sinks, taking the dreams of the Patel family down with it. Only Pi survives, cast adrift in a lifeboat with the unlikeliest of travelling companions: a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Thus begins Pi Patel’s epic, 227-day voyage across the Pacific, and the powerful story of faith and survival at the heart of Life of Pi. Worn and scared, oscillating between hope and despair, Pi is witness to the playing out of the food chain, quite aware of his new position within it. When only the tiger is left of the seafaring menagerie, Pi realizes that his survival depends on his ability to assert his own will, and sets upon a grand and ordered scheme to keep from being Richard Parker’s next meal.

As the days pass, Pi fights both boredom and terror by throwing himself into the practical details of surviving on the open sea -- catching fish, collecting rain water, protecting himself from the sun -- all the while ensuring that the tiger is also kept alive, and knows that Pi is the key to his survival. The castaways face gruelling pain in their brushes with starvation, illness, and the storms that lash the small boat, but there is also the solace of beauty: the rainbow hues of a dorado’s death-throes, the peaceful eye of a looming whale, the shimmering blues of the ocean’s swells. Hope is fleeting, however, and despite adapting his religious practices to his daily routine, Pi feels the constant, pressing weight of despair. It is during the most hopeless and gruelling days of his voyage that Pi whittles to the core of his beliefs, casts off his own assumptions, and faces his underlying terrors head-on.

As Yann Martel has said in one interview, “The theme of this novel can be summarized in three lines. Life is a story. You can choose your story. And a story with an imaginative overlay is the better story.” And for Martel, the greatest imaginative overlay is religion. “God is a shorthand for anything that is beyond the material -- any greater pattern of meaning.” In Life of Pi, the question of stories, and of what stories to believe, is front and centre from the beginning, when the author tells us how he was led to Pi Patel and to this novel: in an Indian coffee house, a gentleman told him, “I have a story that will make you believe in God.” And as this novel comes to its brilliant conclusion, Pi shows us that the story with the imaginative overlay is also the story that contains the most truth.

About the Author

Yann Martel was born in Spain in 1963 of peripatetic Canadian parents. He grew up in Alaska, British Columbia, Costa Rica, France, Ontario and Mexico, and has continued travelling as an adult, spending time in Iran, Turkey and India. After studying philosophy at Trent University and while doing various odd jobs -- tree planting, dishwashing, working as a security guard -- he began to write. He is the prize-winning author of The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, a collection of short stories, and of Self, a novel, both of them published internationally.

His latest book, Life of Pi, won the 2002 Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Governor’s General Award and is an international bestseller. He has been living from his writing since the age of 27. He divides his time between yoga, writing and volunteering in a palliative care unit.

Yann Martel lives in Montreal.

From Our Editors

AWARDS
Winner 2002 - Booker Prize
Winner 2001 - Hugh MacLennan Prize
Nominee 2001 - Governor General's Literary Award
Nominee 2001 - Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book

Editorial Reviews

"Yann Martel''s Life of Pi (Canongate) is another reminder of the largely unsung excellence of the Canongate list. The fiercely independent Scottish outfit remains an outpost of rare quality and distinction, and this exceptional understated novel is certainly a worthy addition to its output.... It would not be out of place on a Booker shortlist." -- From The Bookseller “In the end, Life of Pi may not, as its teller promises, persuade readers to believe in God, but it makes a fine argument for the divinity of good art.” -- Noel Rieder, The Gazette (Montreal) “Martel’s latest literary offering, Life of Pi , is an exquisitely crafted tale that could be described as a castaway adventure story cum allegory.” -- The Gazette (Montreal) “ Life of Pi …is about many things -- religion, zoology, fear -- but most of all, it’s about sheer tenacity. Martel has created a funny, wise and highliy original look at what it means to be human.” -- Chatelaine “In many ways , Life of Pi is a good old-fashioned boy’s book full of survival, cannibalism, horror, math and zoology. An impressive marriage of The Jungle Book with Lord of the Flies , it’s the harrowing coming of age tale of a boy who survives for over a year in a lifeboat with a zebra, an organgutan, an hyena and a Bengal tiger.” -- The Montreal Mirror “A good story can make you see, understand and believe, and Martel is a very good storyteller. M
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Bookclub Guide

1. As Pi’s father says, when he is explaining the ferocity of the zoo animals to his sons, “Life will defend itself no matter how small it is.” In what ways does Pi defend himself in this novel?

2. With his stories about zoos and zoology, Pi teaches us that the ability to adapt is crucial not only to animals but to humans, and is rooted in the will to survive. How do Pi’s theories of zoo-keeping play out on the lifeboat? Does Pi go through a transformation on his journey? What does he learn?

3. Our author discovers the story of Pi Patel after an elderly man in an Indian coffee house tells him, “I have a story that will make you believe in God.” As a young man, Pi shocks his family and local religious officials by embracing Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam, and sees no reason to pick just one. And on the lifeboat, it is God that Pi turns to in his despair. Discuss the role of religion, and religious stories, in this novel.

4. When Pi meets with the Japanese officials at the end of his journey and tells them his story, they do not believe him and ask what really happened. Pi provides them with a new story, one of “dry, yeastless factuality,” without animals, and then asks which one they prefer. Discuss the nature of storytelling and belief in relation to Life of Pi, and to life.

5. “As for hearing, the sloth is not so much deaf as uninterested in sound.” “To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.” As a story of death, loss, fear and destruction, Life of Pi has at its heart a number of very tragic events. However, one of the most pervasive elements of the novel is its very matter-of-fact humour. Why do you think this is? What is the effect on you, as a reader?

6. Near the end of Life of Pi, Pi and Richard Parker come ashore on a free-floating island comprised entirely of algae and inhabited only by many, many meerkats. Why does Pi decide to leave the island? What is the significance of this story? Is there a difference between survival and life?

7. Whereas the bulk of this novel is told by Pi Patel -- “in his voice and through his eyes,” our author tells us -- we also see the current-day Pi through the eyes of the author, and read “excerpts from the verbatim transcript” of the young Pi’s interview with the Japanese officials. Why? Discuss the effect of and possible reasons for the narrative structure of this novel.

8. The Author’s Note ends with a what seems to be a call to arms: “If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.” In reviews of Life of Pi, Yann Martel has been equally and abundantly praised for his realism and his great imagination. Do you see a conflict between these approaches to writing fiction? What is the role of “truth” in fiction?

9. In Life of Pi we know Richard Parker to be a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger mistakenly named after the hunter who captured him, and Pi’s companion during his seven months at sea. But there are further nautical stories involving Richard Parkers, outside of this book: Edgar Allan Poe’s Richard Parker was eaten by his shipmates in the novel The Adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym, a real-life cabin boy named Richard Parker was eaten by his fellow castaways after the sinking of the Mignonette in the 1870s, and so on. Who is Richard Parker? Why might Yann Martel have chosen the name Richard Parker for this tiger, and this novel? Discuss the importance of names, and naming, in Life of Pi.

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