Thursday, April 15, 2010

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Rating: 4 Stars

2002 Booker Prize

Part survival fiction, part mind-bending psychological thriller, Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’ is wholly a profound literary meditation, on the soul sustaining power of Faith.

The basic story, as told by the Narrator, is the account of Piscine Molitor Patel’s horrific seven-month ordeal at sea, after the ship that he’s traveling on sinks in the Pacific. Pi, with his twin majors in Zoology and Religious studies, is a compelling hero – vulnerable and invincible, gentle and savage.

Caught between the cusps of his spiritual leanings on the one side and the animalistic instinct for survival on the other, Pi, like his namesake number, defies easy definition.

I could see parallels between William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ and R.K. Narayan’s ‘A Tiger for Malgudi’. Whatever the author’s inspiration, his voice is uniquely his own. And, if he makes a few missteps in his writing, it’s all the more surprising, because he’s so surefooted everywhere else. Though the latter end of the book seemed to lag a little, and appeared to become a bit too surreal for comfort; in the final chapters, he had me floored, and with an immediate urge to start reading from the beginning all over again.

In Pi’s shoes, what would we do? More to the point, what would we not do? And once we’ve done the unthinkable, how do we reclaim our humanity again? Yet, Pi emerges through his trial, his soul intact - a survivor in every sense of the word.

Is this a “story that will make you believe in God”? Well, the proof of that pudding is in the ‘Life of Pi’. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever had any curiosity about the divine human animal that is Man.

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