Life of Pi - Yann Martel

Life of Pi was on my to-read list when it first came out; I believe the first person to recommend it to me was Lori at the library. Then four or five (at least) of the family medicine interns had read it around the same time and each offered to loan it to me. Finally, the Resiterns book club had read it a few months ago and everyone was talking about it there. So, I finally borrowed a copy and read it.

It's an amazing story, written as if true (the author's note at the beginning explains how he came to hear Pi Patel's story). The man who first tells the author about Pi says he has a story "which will make you believe in God." The story itself is a fantastic tale of survival: it's like "Cast Away" minus the island and with a motley crew of zoo animals for company. Pi manages to stay alive under the most amazing circumstances, through a combination of resourcefulness, luck, and his curious faiths in God. Faiths, you ask? Yes, it turns out Pi is at once a Hindu, Christian, and Muslim, because he feels each contributes to his understanding of God, and he loves God so much he can't turn any of them down.

Unfortunately for me, I had overheard one of the surprising twists before I read the book; but at least it was revealed a third of the way in, and didn't ruin the entire book for me. Also, there were a few parts (one in particular) which reminded me of The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear, a book which also involves being lost at sea but is otherwise completely different.

The novel is well-written, with plenty of fascinating tidbits about zoology (Pi's father is a zookeeper) and survivor mentality. It touches on the concepts of story and truth, where they intersect, and how that relates to faith and religions. Hopefully that's enough to spark your curiosity without giving away too much.

Fed to jonathan's brain | March 17, 2004