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Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  

Life of Pi

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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

January 2014 Guest Editor Jodi Picoult on The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. The story sounds like the beginning of a joke: a boy, a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a tiger floating on a lifeboat in the Pacific. Eventually, the hyena eats the zebra and the orangutan, then the Bengal attacks the hyena. The boy, Pi, is left with the tiger. When Pi washes ashore, he is met by some Japanese officials. He tells them his story, and they think he's crazy. From a writing standpoint, what makes this novel wonderful is that it asks questions: How do we make people believe our stories? Is there one way of telling a story, or are there many? What do we need to believe as readers, and above all, to whom does this story belong - the writer or the person reading it?

The Lovereading view...

A 2011 World Book Night selection.

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2002.

Pi’s family is moving their zoo when the boat sinks and 16-year old Pi is left afloat in a lifeboat with four animals that includes a tiger. Up to that point the book is slow to get into but persevere for this unique work is stunning. It’s brutal, hopeful, humorous, philosophical, almost implausible and yet strangely believable. A tale that will remain with you for a very long time and deserves another read.

Our Editorial Guru, Sarah Broadhurst, has suggested others book and authors that would be perfect for you to read next or to pass on the recommendation - so your gift will keep on giving enjoyment. Her selection for this title is: Mark Haddon.

Comparison: Mark Haddon (The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time), Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife), Aravind Adiga (The White Tiger).

To view the Young Adult edition of this book, click here.

If you like Yann Martel you might also like to read books by Justin Cartwright, Rebecca Hunt and Arundhati Roy.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

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Synopsis

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orangutan - and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary and best-loved works of fiction in recent years.

Reviews

'Extraordinary...Life of Pi could renew your faith in the ability of novelists to invest even the most outrageous scenario with plausible life.'
New York Times Book Review

The premise of this novel is so bold that only an immensely confident and imaginative writer would try to pull it off. A 16-year-old boy is emigrating with his family from India to Canada when their ship sinks and he is cast away on a lifeboat, the sole survivor. Or at least, not quite. Pi's father runs a zoo in India, and when they emigrate, they have to take some of the animals with them so they can be re-housed in a Canadian zoo. Although Pi is the only human survivor of the shipwreck, some of the animals survive: a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena and a Bengal tiger with the unlikely name of Richard Parker. At least two-thirds of this 300-page book tell the story of Pi's seven-month ordeal on a lifeboat with no human company. For any writer, producing a novel that has very little interaction between human beings, and, for large chunks, no dialogue, is a fairly considerable challenge. Instead, we learn all about Pi and how his strong survival instinct sees him through the ordeal. This involves a combination of practical skills that help him find food and water (although a practising Hindu and vegetarian, he has to eat raw fish), mental cunning that enables him to tame the tiger (the other animals don't last very long); and spiritual strength (he is, oddly, a devotee of Islam and Christianity as well as Hinduism) that gives him the will to live. The amazing thing is that it works. Although the story is utterly implausible, Martel has clearly done huge amounts of research that make it convincing, at least on a literary level. Pi himself is a likeable character - a young boy who is mature enough to devise a sophisticated survival strategy and recount his ordeal with humour. It is, he says, the tiger who saves him. By the end he regards Richard Parker as a friend - but the feeling isn't mutual. 'I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. The pain is like an axe that chops at my heart. This book is quite an accomplishment. For anyone weary of semi-autobiographical novels, this is one that springs entirely from an author's fertile imagination. (Kirkus UK)

About the Author

Yann Martel

Yann Martel was born in Spain in 1963 of Canadian parents. After studying philosophy at university, he worked at odd jobs and travelled before turning to writing. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed 2002 Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi, as well as the novel Self, the stories The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, and the collection of letters to the Prime Minister of Canada What is Stephen Harper Reading?. Yann Martel lives in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Author photo © Alice Kuiper

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Book Info

Publication date

17th May 2003

Author

Yann Martel

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Publisher

Canongate Books Ltd

Format

Paperback

Categories

Literary Fiction
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ISBN

9781841953922

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