Life of Pi

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Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

Knopf Canada | September 11, 2001 | Hardcover |

4.0323 out of 5 rating. 155 Reviews
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The Jungle Book meets Not Wanted On the Voyage in a triumph of storytelling and originality: a novel, as one character puts it, to make you believe in God.

Piscine Molitor Patel, nicknamed Pi, lives in Pondicherry, India, where his family runs a zoo. Little Pi is a great reader. He devours books on Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, and to the surprise of his secular parents, becomes devoted to all three religions. When the parents decide to emigrate to Canada, the family boards a cargo ship with many of the animals that are going to new zoological homes in North America, and bravely sets sail for the New World.

Alas, the ship sinks. A solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the surface of the wild blue Pacific. In it are five survivors: Pi, a hyena, a zebra, an orang-utan and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

With intelligence, daring and inexpressible fear, Pi manages to keep his wits about him as the animals begin to assert their places in the foodchain; it is the tiger, Richard Parker, with whom he must develop an inviolable understanding.

Yann Martel's Life of Pi is a transformative novel: a book to delight in, to talk about and treasure. It will convince the most jaded among us - and remind the rest - that something grander is afoot in our lives than we may have realized.

Format: Hardcover

Published: September 11, 2001

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676973760

ISBN - 13: 9780676973761

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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– More About This Product –

Life of Pi

Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

Format: Hardcover

Published: September 11, 2001

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676973760

ISBN - 13: 9780676973761

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

The Jungle Book meets Not Wanted On the Voyage in a triumph of storytelling and originality: a novel, as one character puts it, to make you believe in God.

Piscine Molitor Patel, nicknamed Pi, lives in Pondicherry, India, where his family runs a zoo. Little Pi is a great reader. He devours books on Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, and to the surprise of his secular parents, becomes devoted to all three religions. When the parents decide to emigrate to Canada, the family boards a cargo ship with many of the animals that are going to new zoological homes in North America, and bravely sets sail for the New World.

Alas, the ship sinks. A solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the surface of the wild blue Pacific. In it are five survivors: Pi, a hyena, a zebra, an orang-utan and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

With intelligence, daring and inexpressible fear, Pi manages to keep his wits about him as the animals begin to assert their places in the foodchain; it is the tiger, Richard Parker, with whom he must develop an inviolable understanding.

Yann Martel's Life of Pi is a transformative novel: a book to delight in, to talk about and treasure. It will convince the most jaded among us - and remind the rest - that something grander is afoot in our lives than we may have realized.

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.

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 stor
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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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