Reading Life of Pi doesn’t spark love at first page. I grew to love it gradually – it was like growing up with Pi in his world full of colours, emotions and dilemmas.
Pi is an interesting character whose curiosity made me question a lot of things I thought I was certain about – a lot of moral dilemmas such as religion, and what a human being is ready to do and endure in order to survive.
After losing his family during their emigration to Canada, when the ship sank, Pi faces an excruciating journey across the Pacific Ocean. This journey tests him to the very limits – not only because he lost everything but also because of what he gained. First of all, he acquires a new companion – a Royal Bengal tiger amongst other animal passengers rescued after the ship sank. Both Pi and Richard Parker, which was the tiger’s name, learn how to live together and if it’s even possible in such a limited space.
This story is not a straightforward tale of a boy lost at the sea. It gives us an inquisitive insight into the human soul. Pi’s courage and persistence take him a long way and let him experience the best and worst moments of his life. The strange friendship he gained is not built on trust, but on the constant fear of being left completely alone. For me, in a symbolic meaning, it was a symbiosis of body and mind – a boy whose body was weakened by dehydration, starvation and weather, versus a mind which took the form of a ferocious wild animal that had survival as its critical aim at all costs.
The language in the book is truly haunting. Vibrant descriptions create unforgettable images – it applies to all colourful pictures of places and people, and also to those brutal and explicit scenes of extreme measures taken in order to survive. It left me stunned at moments of total bare honesty of the situation. Also, dreams and reality mix in the most bizarre ways – ways which perfectly complement this captivating story. I really liked the intertwining chapters in the book which shed a bit of light on what his life was like after his journey.
It’s a compelling story of survival and humanity in the most challenging setting. It’s one of those books which will make you think for hours and still would not provide clear answers, as each and every reader will have a different opinion and understanding of the story.
Author: Yann Martel
Title: Life of Pi
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Format: Paperback 352 pages