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Life of Pi

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Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist, Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, a Tamil boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

460 pages, Paperback

First published September 11, 2001

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About the author

Yann Martel

35 books4,853 followers
Yann Martel is a Canadian author who wrote the Man Booker Prize–winning novel Life of Pi, an international bestseller published in more than 50 territories. It has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide and spent more than a year on the bestseller lists of the New York Times and The Globe and Mail, among many other best-selling lists. Life of Pi was adapted for a movie directed by Ang Lee, garnering four Oscars including Best Director and winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.
Martel is also the author of the novels The High Mountains of Portugal, Beatrice and Virgil, and Self, the collection of stories The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, and a collection of letters to Canada's Prime Minister 101 Letters to a Prime Minister. He has won a number of literary prizes, including the 2001 Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and the 2002 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature.
Martel lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with writer Alice Kuipers and their four children. His first language is French, but he writes in English.

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Profile Image for Trevor.
1,345 reviews22.8k followers
March 5, 2008
I found a lot of this book incredibly tedious. I tend to avoid the winners of the Man / Booker – they make me a little depressed. The only Carey I haven’t liked won the Booker (Oscar and Lucinda), I really didn’t like the little bit of Vernon God Little I read and I never finished The Sea despite really liking Banville’s writing. So, being told a book is a winner of the Booker tends to be a mark against it from the start, unfortunately.

I’m going to have to assume you have read this book, as if I don’t I won’t be able to say anything about it at all. Apparently, when Yann Martel wrote this he was feeling a bit down and this was his way of plucking himself up. Well, good on him. That’s just great. I was a little annoyed when I found out that the person the book is dedicated to had also written a story about a man in a boat with a wild cat and had considered suing for plagiarism.

The book is written by a member of that class of people who are my least favourite; a religious person who cannot conceive of someone not being religious. There is some fluff at the start in which atheism is ‘discussed’ (read, discarded) as something people inevitably give up on with their dying breath. But the religious are generally terribly arrogant, so it is best not to feel insulted by their endless insults – they know not what they do.

Parts of this were so badly over written that it was almost enough to make me stop reading. The bit where he is opening his first can of water is a case in point. This takes so long and is so incidental to the story and written in such a cutesy way that I started to pray the boat would sink, the tiger would get him … I would even have accepted God smiting him at this point as a valid plotting point, even if (or particularly because) it would bring the story to an abrupt end.

This is a book told as two possible stories of how a young man survives for 227 days floating across the Pacific Ocean told in 100 chapters. That was the other thing that I found annoying – much is made of the fact this story is told in 100 chapters – but I could not feel any necessity for many of the chapters. Just as I could not feel any necessity for the Italic voice that sounded like Tom Waits doing, “What is he building in there?” Well, except to introduce us again to Pi some number of years later. You know, in Invisible Cities Calvino has necessary chapters – this book just has 100 chapters. It was something that annoyed me from early on in the book – that the chapters seemed far too arbitrary and pointing it out at the end just made me more irritated. There may well be some Hindu reason for 100 chapters – but like Jesus ticking off the ancient prophecies on his way to martyrdom, I still couldn’t see why these chapters were needed in themselves.

Pi is the central character in the book who, for some odd reason, is named after a swimming pool – I started playing with the ideas of swimming pools and oceans in my head to see where that might lead, but got bored. He is an active, practicing member of three of the world’s major religions. There is a joke in the early part of the book about him possibly becoming Jewish (ha ha – or perhaps I should draw a smiley face?). The only religion missing entirely from the book is Buddhism. Well, when I say entirely, it is interesting that it is a Japanese ship that sinks and that the people Pi tells his story to are Japanese engineers. I’ve known Hindus who consider Buddhists to be little more than dirty, filthy atheists – so perhaps that is one reason why these Japanese engineers are treated with such contempt at the end of the book.

The Japanese make the connections between the two stories – but we can assume that they stuff up these connections. While it is clear the French Cook is the hyena, Pi’s mum is the orang-utang, and the Asian gentleman is the zebra, I’m not convinced Pi is meant to be the tiger. In fact, the one constant (that’s a pun, by the way, you are supposed to be laughing) in both stories in Pi.

My interpretation is that the tiger is actually God. Angry, jealous, vicious, hard to appease, arbitrary and something that takes up lots of time when you have better things to do – sounds like God to me.

The last little bit of the book has Pi asking which is the better story- the one with animals or the one he tells with people. I mean, this is an unfair competition – he has spent chapter after chapter telling the animal story and only the last couple telling the people story. The point of this, though, is Pascal’s wager said anew. If we can never really know if there is no god and it ultimately makes no difference if we tell the story with him or without him in it, but if the story is more beautiful with him in it – then why not just accept him in the story and be damned.

Well, because the story isn’t improved with the animals and life isn’t just a story and kid’s stories are great sometimes, but I often like adult stories at least as much – and sometimes even more.

This is yet another person all alone survival story, but one I don’t feel that was handled as well as it could have been – mostly because the writer had an ideological message that he felt was more important than the story – never a good sign. Worse still, in the end I really couldn’t care less about Pi – I knew he was going to survive and knew it would be ‘because of’ his faith.

He does talk about Jesus’ most petulant moment with the fig tree – so I was quite impressed that rated a mention – but, all the same, I haven’t been converted to any or all of the world religions discussed in this book.

Compare this tale with the bit out of A History of the World in Ten and a Half Chapters about the painting – I know, it is not a fair comparison, Barnes is a god, but I’ve made it anyway.

I didn’t really enjoy this book, I felt it tried too hard and didn’t quite make it. But Christians will love it – oh yeah – Christians will definitely love it.
Profile Image for Eva.
1 review256 followers
December 4, 2013
It is not so much that The Life of Pi, is particularly moving (although it is). It isn’t even so much that it is written with language that is both delicate and sturdy all at once (which it is, as well). And it’s certainly not that Yann Martel’s vision filled passages are so precise that you begin to feel the salt water on your skin (even though they are). It is that, like Bohjalian and Byatt and all of the great Houdini’s of the literary world, in the last few moments of your journey – after you’ve felt the emotions, endured the moments of heartache, yearned for the resolution of the characters’ struggle – that you realize the book is not what you thought it was. The story transforms, instantly, and forever.

And in those last few chapters, you suddenly realize that the moral has changed as well.

You feel Martel’s words lingering, suggesting, and you find yourself wondering whether you are his atheist who takes the deathbed leap of faith – hoping for white light and love? Or the agnostic who , in trying to stay true to his reasonable self, explains the mysteries of life and death in only scientific terms, lacking imagination to the end, and, essentially, missing the better story?

There is no use in trying to provide a brief synopsis for this ravishing tale of a young boy from India left adrift in the Pacific in a lifeboat with a tiger who used to reside in his father’s zoo in Pondicherry. There is no use because once you finish the book you might decide that this was not, indeed, what the book was about at all. There is no use because, depending on your philosophical bent, the book will mean something very different to your best friend than it will to you. There is no use because it is nearly impossible to describe what makes this book so grand.

Read this book. Not because it is an exceptional piece of literary talent. It is, of course. But there are many good authors and many good books. While uncommon, they are not endangered. Read this book because in recent memory - aside from Jose Saramago’s arresting Blindness – there have been no stories which make such grand statements with such few elements. As Pi says in his story “Life on a lifeboat isn’t much of a life. It is like an end game in chess, a game with few pieces. The elements couldn’t be more simple, nor the stakes higher.” It is the same with Martel’s undulating fable of a book about a boy in a boat with a tiger. A simple story with potentially life altering consequences for it’s readers.

As Martel writes, "The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no?" Like Schroedinger's cat in the box, the way this book is understood, the way it is perceived affects what it is. There has been some talk that this book will make it’s readers believe in god. I think it’s a question of perspective. To behold this gem of a novel as an adventure of man against the elements (the “dry, yeastless factuality” of what actually happened) is certainly one way to go about it. But to understand this piece to be something indescribable, something godlike, is by far the greater leap of faith.

Oh, but worth the leap, if the reader is like that atheist, willing to see the better story.

Profile Image for Mary.
119 reviews42 followers
January 24, 2008
It's not that it was bad, it's just that I wish the tiger had eaten him so the story wouldn't exist.

I read half of it, and felt really impatient the whole time, skipping whole pages, and then I realized that I didn't have to keep going, which is as spiritual a moment as I could hope to get from this book.
Profile Image for Kirstine.
463 reviews587 followers
May 11, 2021
I was extremely surprised by this book. Let me tell you why (it's a funny story):

On the Danish cover it says "Pi's Liv" (Pi's Life), but I hadn't noticed the apostrophe, so I thought it said "Pis Liv" (Piss Life) and I thought that was an interesting title at least, so perhaps I should give it a go. So I did. And... what I read was not at all what I had expected (I thought it was a book about a boy growing up amidst poverty and homelessness). It wasn't until I looked up the book in English I realized the title wasn't "Piss Life". I was deceived for longer than I like to admit and, well, not only about this.

When I first read it I also thought it was based on a true story. I'm not sure why I thought this, I must have misread something (I vaguely recall thinking the prologue was instead an introduction). It was a sad (and ehm, slightly humiliating) day when I discovered the truth lay elsewhere. I guess your romantic beliefs must die someday, and that was the day for me.

See, it's easier to believe in the world and be optimistic about it, when you also believe that world capable of containing a boy and a tiger co-existing on a lifeboat for 7 months and surviving.

The truth is this book probably changed my life, not in any grand, extraordinary way. But with the small things, the small observations. Like how Pi was afraid to run out of paper, to document his days in the lifeboat, and instead he ran out of ink. Like how he chose to embrace three religions, not just one.

This book, and Pi especially, represent and embody a way of life that I admire. It's not about believing in God, but about what it takes to believe in something, anything really. Yourself, the world, goodness, life, God.

If it seemed real enough for me to believe it had happened, perhaps the real world is indeed a place where it could happen. And that's what I want to believe, even if real life might tell me otherwise.
Profile Image for Federico DN.
744 reviews2,045 followers
September 30, 2023

Piscine Molitor Patel is a young indian boy travelling with his family aboard a freighter through the Pacific seas, and carrying their precious zoo animals to America for relocation. One stormy night the ship suddenly sinks, and he ends up in a small lifeboat with several of their animals and, among them, a huge Bengal tiger. This is the tale of his extraordinary adventure, and how he managed to survive for months stranded in the middle of the seas with little to no resources, and accompanied by one of the deadliest predators in the world.

This was one lovely and painful emotional ride. Loved the origins of Pi, the zoo teachings, and specially the multi-religious Hindu-Christian-Islam approach. The shipwreck was devastating, and so too a big chunk of the time adrift. Pi an incredible little Crusoe, and Richard Parker a terrifying but necessary companionship; a beautiful yet dangerous bonding, but vital, for both. I remember most of my journey with them filled with great apprehension and distress; sure there were beautiful moments and a love and respect for nature rarely seen in other works, yet most of the time lingered a persistent sadness of uncertainty, and much despair before a sometimes cruel sea that took what little they had and didn’t leave much room for hope. Nevertheless, this was an unforgettable journey so worthy that not once regretted taking.

A fantastic story of survival, courage, spirituality, and love for life and nature. A sublime journey of impossible beauty , with loads moments to remember by. And to top it off, a soul shattering ending likely to never forget . Recommendable. Very.

*** Life of Pi (2012) is a lovely artistic adaptation, extremely faithful to the book, and an excellent complement to the reading. The scenery beyond beautiful, the acting on point, and the special effects impeccable. The film gorgeously captures the best heartfelt parts of the book, and cuts most of the sadness away from it. As usual the book won, I enjoyed it more, but I think only because I read it first and then the surprise was lost. I LOVE the book for its detail and depth, but ultimately I LOVE the movie more for its beautiful uplifting delivery; and a big part of me wishes I’d watched it first. (8/10)

[2001] [460p] [Fiction] [Highly Recommendable] [Bananas float!]


Piscine Molitor Patel es un joven muchacho indio viajando con su familia a bordo de un barco carguero a través del océano Pacifico, y llevando sus preciados animales de zoológico para reubicarlos en América. Una noche tormentosa la nave repentinamente se hunde, y él termina en un pequeño bote salvavidas con varios de los animales, y entre ellos, un gigante tigre Bengala. Esta es la historia de su extraordinaria aventura, y cómo logró sobrevivir por meses varado en el medio del océano con poco y nada de recursos, y acompañado por uno de depredadores más letales de la tierra.

Este fue un adorable y doloroso viaje emocional. Amé los orígenes de Pi, las enseñanzas del zoológico, y especialmente el enfoque multi-religioso Hindú-Cristiano-Islámico. El naufragio fue devastador, y también una gran parte del tiempo a la deriva. Pi un increíble pequeño Crusoe, y Richard Parker una terrorífica pero necesaria compañía; una hermosa pero peligrosa vinculación, pero vital, para ambos. Recuerdo la mayoría del mi viaje con ellos lleno de gran aprehensión y angustia; obvio que hubo hermosos momentos y un amor y respeto por la naturaleza pocas veces visto en otras obras, pero la mayor parte del tiempo permaneció conmigo una persistente tristeza incierta, y mucha desesperanza ante un a veces cruel océano que tomaba lo poco que tenían sin dejar mucho lugar a esperanza. Sin embargo, este fue un viaje inolvidable tan valioso que ni una vez me arrepentí de tomarlo.

Una fantástica historia de supervivencia, coraje, espiritualidad y amor por la vida y naturaleza. Un sublime viaje de imposible belleza , con muchos momentos para el recuerdo. Y para coronarlo todo, un final que parte el alma imposible de olvidar . Recomendable. Mucho.

*** Una aventura extraordinaria (2012) es una adorable y artística adaptación, extremadamente fiel al libro, y un excelente complemento para la lectura. La escenografía más allá de hermosa, la actuación acorde, y los efectos especiales impecables. El filme hermosamente captura las partes más sentidas del libro, y corta la mayoría de su tristeza. Como usualmente sucede el libro ganó, lo disfruté más, pero creo que sólo porque lo leí primero y luego la sorpresa se perdió. AMO el libro por el detalle y su profundidad, pero en última instancia AMO la película más por su hermoso y elevador mensaje a la hora de entregarlo; y gran parte de mí desearía haberla visto primero. (8/10)

[2001] [460p] [Ficción] [Altamente Recomendable]
Profile Image for jessica.
2,575 reviews43.4k followers
March 1, 2021
‘life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it - a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can.’

and sometimes stories are so beautiful that souls have fallen in a love with them - a tender, quiet love that nurtures what it can.

this is one of those stories.

its a story that will always have a special place in my heart. its one of the only books that has ever made me re-evaluate my beliefs on faith, it helped me further realise the impact and importance of the connection between humans and animals, and it planted a seed of hope that life can be beautiful, even in the most harrowing of circumstances.

this is the kind of story that will always teach life lessons, no matter at which age you read it and regardless of the amount of re-reads. you will always walk away from this book having learnt something new about life, the world, and about yourself.

it is truly one of the most beautiful stories i have ever had the privilege of reading.

5 stars
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
634 reviews5,757 followers
September 14, 2023
Richard Parker Is Unforgettable

Very rarely does a character stay with you for life. But this story is one that I will carry with me.

Life of Pi starts in India with a boy named Piscine Molitor Patel, also known by his nickname Pi. His family historically has operated a zoo but decides to relocate to Canada. Things don’t go quite as expected when the ship carrying them to Canada sinks.

Pi spends 227 days searching for land with a tiger named Richard Parker.

Parallels to Real Life

Did you know that Jose Salvador Alvarenga was adrift for 438 days at sea? He went fishing off the coast of Mexico on November 17, 2012. After drifting for more than a year, he spotted Marshall Islands and swam to shore.

Deep Questions

There were some really interesting questions that are raised in the Life of Pi:

What gets you up in the morning? What wakes you up out of your bed and inspires you to put one foot in front of the other, to make this existence meaningful and worthwhile? What is your tiger?

Why are the stories that we tell ourselves important?

Book Versus Movie

As someone who has both read the book and viewed the movie, I would recommend reading the book before watching the movie. However, both are excellent, and I really enjoyed the vibrant, rich colors in the movie.

Overall, an unforgettable book that will always make me think twice before boarding a boat. Now, I just need to find a cat to adopt and name him Richard Parker…….

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Profile Image for Malbadeen.
613 reviews7 followers
March 24, 2008
Sift a pinch of psychology with a scant tablespoon of theology, add one part Island of the Blue Dolphin with two parts philosophy, mix with a pastry blender or the back of a fork until crumbly but not dry and there you have Pi and his lame-o, cheesed out, boat ride to enlightenment.
Actually I liked the beginning of this book- loved Pi's decleration and re-naming of himself, his adding religions like daisy's to a chain, and was really diggin on the family as a whole and then....then, then, then the tarpaulin.
I did learn some things though, I learned that:
a). cookies work wonders in assuaging heated arguments.
b). Tiger turds do NOT taste good, no mater how hungry you are and hold absolutely no nutritional value (actualy this might apply only to turds obtained from tigers that have been floating on rafts for several weeks/months? I think I'll apply it as a general rule).
I wanted to like this book more - I loved the cover and then there's that little golden seal that keeps going psst, psst, you don't get it - it's waaaay deep, you missed the whole point. But I think no, I got the point, like a 2 by 4 to the forehead I got the dang point!
What I lack in spelling, this author lacks in subtlty. I felt like the ending was a study guide/cliff notes pamphlet/wikepedia entry all in one.
I love Pi in the first 3rd, I understand the merits of Pi in the raft (just not my thing), but pi in the last bit - ugh, ugh,ugh! I'm chocking on the authors shoving of moral down my throat - help! help! I can't breath.......
2 stars for the beginning, negative 3 stars for the ending, add something (or subtract to make it equal a positive - ????) and there you have my 2 starred LIfe of Pi review.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews162k followers
December 10, 2020

Big Bois.

Everyone's heard of them. The Libraries are full of them. But are they worth it?

Click the link for my video review of the big bois in my life.
The Written Review:

The beginning is rough.

It's all like - Why do we keep going on and on about religion? Where's the boat? Where's the tiger?

Stop and enjoy the roses.

The book will get to the tiger part when it wants to.

Young Pi ( Piscine "Pi" Patel ) spends the first part of the book joining the Christian, Muslim and Hindu faiths.

It's not a matter of he can't choose a religion - it's that he is able simultaneously believe in all of them.

The philosophical musings and religious prose provide an extremely interesting insight on how these religions intersect:
If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
And then...you get to the tiger part!

Pi Patel's life quickly shifts from one of religious philosophy and animal care (at his family's zoo) to one of great uncertainty.

His family is closing their Indian zoo and they need to travel by boat to a new county. Whatever animals they couldn't sell or trade are on the ship.

Only, something goes wrong.

Very. Wrong.

The ship is capsizing and it looks like neither human nor animal will make it out alive.

Soon, Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with a menagerie of animals and within an adventure he will surely never forget.
Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart.

Four stars because I have a selective memory and overall enjoyed the book.

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9 reviews18 followers
March 25, 2013
Life of Pi was a fairly engaging story in terms of plot and character, but what made it such a memorable book, for me at least, was its thematic concerns. Is it a "story that will make you believe in God," as Pi claims? I'm not sure I'd go that far, but I would recommend it to people who enjoy thinking about the nature of reality and the role of faith in our lives.

To me, the entire thrust of the book is the idea that reality is a story, and therefore we can choose our own story (as the author himself puts it). So if life is a story, we have two basic choices: we can limit ourselves only to what we can know for sure - that is, to "dry, yeastless factuality" - or we can choose "the better story." I suppose in Pi's world the "better story" includes God, but he doesn't say this is the only meaningful possibility. In fact, Pi calls atheists his "brothers and sisters of a different faith," because, like Pi, atheists "go as far as the legs of reason will carry them - and then they leap."

Pi's point, in my opinion, is that human experience always involves interpretation, that our knowledge is necessarily limited, that both religious belief and atheism require a leap of faith of one kind or another - after all, there's so little we can know for sure. For Pi, then, we shouldn't limit ourselves only to beliefs that can be proven empirically. Instead, we should make choices that bring meaning and richness to our lives; we should exercise faith and strive for ideals (whatever the object of our faith and whatever those ideals might be). Or, as Pi says in taking a shot at agnosticism: "To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation."

In the end, however, I didn't necessarily read this book as an invitation to believe in God. Instead, I saw it as a mirror held up to the reader, a test to see what kind of worldview the reader holds. That is, as Pi himself says, since "it makes no factual difference to you and you can't prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with the animals or the story without the animals?" Or, as I took it: Is it my nature to reach for and believe the better but less likely story? Or do I tend to believe the more likely but less lovely story? What view of reality do I generally hold?

Another equally important question is this: How did I come by my view of reality? Do I view the world primarily through the lens of reason? Or do I view it through the lens of emotion? For Pi, I think it's safe to say his belief comes by way of emotion. He has, as one reviewer noted, a certain skepticism about reason (in fact, Pi calls it "fool's gold for the bright"). Pi also has what I would call a subtle but real basis for his belief in God, namely, "an intellect confounded yet a trusting sense of presence and ultimate purpose." But belief still isn't easy for him. Despite his trusting sense of purpose, Pi acknowledges that "Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer." So it's not that a life of faith is easier, in Pi's opinion, it's that for him belief is ultimately more worthwhile.

This is not to say, however, that Pi holds a thoroughly postmodern view of God or that he believes as a matter of art rather than in a sincere way. True, Pi suggests that whether you believe his story had a tiger in it is also a reflection of your ability to believe in something higher. And of course it's easy to read Pi's entire story as an attempt to put an acceptable gloss on a horrific experience. Still, there are a number of clues throughout the book that give the reader at least some reason to believe Pi's story did have a tiger in it (for instance, the floating banana and the meerkat bones).

As such, Pi's two stories could be seen as an acknowledgement that both atheism and belief in God require some faith, and therefore it's up to each of us to choose the way of life that makes us the happiest. He's not necessarily saying that the truth is what you make it, he's saying we don't have unadulterated access to the truth: our imagination, personalities, and experiences unavoidably influence the way we interact with the world. But that's not the same as saying whatever we imagine is true. I think Pi, for instance, knows which of his stories is true. It's not Pi but the reader who is left with uncertainty and who therefore has to throw her hands up and say "I don't know," or else choose one story or the other. And to me, this isn't too far off from the predicament we all find ourselves in.

And that's what makes Life of Pi such a challenge to the reader: Pi's first story is fantastic, wonderful, but hard to believe. Yet there's some evidence that it happened just the way he said it did. And Pi's second story is brutal, terrible, but much easier to accept as true. Yet it's not entirely plausible either, and it leaves no room for the meerkat bones or Pi's "trusting sense of presence and ultimate purpose." If the reader personally dismisses the tiger story out of hand, I suppose that's another way of saying the reader, by nature, tends to believe the more likely but less lovely story. In the same way, if the reader gets to the story's payoff and still believes there was a tiger in the boat, the reader is probably inclined to believe the more emotionally satisfying story. But it should be born in mind that Pi doesn't definitively state which story was true, something which only he can know for sure. All we can really be sure of, in Pi's universe, is that he was stuck on a lifeboat for a while before making it to shore. So which story do I believe? I struggled with that question for a long time. But after thinking about it for a couple of days, I'll end this review with the final lines from the book: "Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal Tiger."
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Annalisa.
552 reviews1,516 followers
February 29, 2016
I read this book two years ago, but when we discussed it this month for book club, I remembered how much I liked it. A good discussion always ups my appreciation of a novel as does an ending that makes me requestion my givens in the story. I find myself reading contradictory interpretations and agreeing with both sides. That's the beauty of symbolism: as long as you back up your cause, it's plausible.

Initially it took me several weeks to get into the book. The beginning reads more like a textbook with inserted clips of the main character's future self. While the knowledge I gained about zoology and theology was interesting, it wasn't intriguing enough to keep me awake for more than a few pages at a time and often I found the tidbits a confusing distraction. But with distance I enjoyed the backdrop information it offered. If you're struggling through the initial background, jump ahead to the second section. Yeah it's important, but it's not vital. And maybe once you've read the story you'll want to come back and appreciate his analysis.

I highly enjoyed this strange journey at sea and found it almost believable--until the castaways encounter the island at which point I wondered how much of his sanity wavered. Being shipwreck is one of a plethora of phobias I have. Throw on top my even stronger fear of tigers and this was a story straight out of a nightmare, one that kept me intrigued for a resolution. How could a boy keep the upper hand shipwrecked with a tiger? I had a picture in my head of Pi clinging to the side of the boat to avoid both the salty water infested with sharks and a foodless boat housing a hungry carnivore.

I found myself stuck in the unusual place where as a reader I find a story plausible with full knowledge that had this story been presented in real life I would have doubted its authenticity. I wanted to believe the story and all its fantasy. The end initially annoyed me, but if you look at the rich metaphors in the story, it becomes delectable for a story analyst like me. There is nothing I enjoy more than tearing apart a story and pulling out the intentions and symbols buried inside. Instead of just a fantastical story, you find a fable with a moral.

Spoilers here.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
"Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can."
"It was my luck to have a few good teachers in my youth, men and women who came into my dark head and lit a match."
"Doubt is useful for a while...But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation."
"All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways."
"Memory is an ocean and he bobs on the surface."
"First wonder goes deepest; wonder after that fits in the impression made by the first."
"The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart."
Profile Image for Adrian Rush.
9 reviews15 followers
June 6, 2008
No need to reinvent the wheel. Here's my Amazon.com review:

It doesn't matter whether what you tell people is truth or fiction, because there's no such thing as truth, no real difference between fantasy and reality, so you might as well go with the more interesting story. That's "Life of Pi" in a nutshell. Sorry to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it yet.

Remember that season of the TV series "Dallas" that turned out to be just a dream? That's kind of how you feel after you've invested hours of your time reading page after page of a quite engrossing survival narrative, only to find out that it was all something the survivor made up.

Or was it? Ah, there's the twist that we're supposed to find so clever. But the officials from the ship company who tell Pi they don't believe his story are such hopelessly weak strawmen that the author pretty much forces you to accept the "better story." Pi, and, by extension, Martel, have no patience for the "dry, yeastless factuality" that the ship officials want, you see. Never mind whether it's closer to the truth -- it's just too boring, and we need colorful stories to make our lives richer. Besides, Pi and Martel say, as soon as something leaves your mouth, it's no longer reality -- it's only your interpretation of reality. So why bother grasping for the truth? You prefer the Creation story to the Big Bang? Then go with the Creation story, even if it defies logic and scientific discovery.

That's all well and good. Everyone likes a good story. But there's a time and a place for them, and the ship officials didn't need a story -- they needed to know what happened to their ship. To that end, Pi's entire tale is irrelevant anyway. And that, in turn, makes you wonder what the whole point of the book was. Other than, maybe, to laud the power of storytelling in a really hamfisted manner. Or to advocate for taking refuge in fantastical fiction when reality is too harsh. Or to champion shallow religious beliefs ("Why, Islam is nothing but an easy sort of exercise, I thought. Hot-weather yoga for the Bedouins. Asanas without sweat, heaven without strain."). Or to bash agnostics. Or something.

Be advised that this is not a book for children or the squeamish. Pi's transformation from vegetarian to unflinching killer, and Richard Parker's dietary habits, are rife with gratuituously gory details about the manner in which animals suffer and are killed and eaten.

The story promises to make you believe in God. Yet with Martel's insistence that a well-crafted story is just as good as or even preferable to reality, he leaves us not believing in a god of any kind, but rather suggesting that we embrace the stories that religions have made up about their gods, regardless of those stories' relation to scientific knowledge, since the stories are so darn nice, comfy, warm, and fuzzy in comparison with real life. Whether the God in the stories actually exists, meanwhile, becomes totally irrelevant. So ultimately, Martel makes a case for why he thinks people SHOULD believe in God -- it's a respite from harsh reality, we're told, a way to hide from life rather than meet it head-on with all of its pains and struggles -- and that's quite different from what he ostensibly set out to do. He trivializes God into a "nice story," a trite characterization sure to offend many readers.

Pi sums up this postmodern worldview by telling the ship investigators, "The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no?" Well, no, the world IS just the way it is, in all of its highs and lows, triumphs and tragedies, happiness and sadness. But Pi and Martel's solution is to avoid the whole messy thing altogether, pretend that the way things are don't really exist, and pull a security blanket of fiction over your head. Create your own reality as you see fit. That's called escapism. It's fine when you want to curl up with a good book on a rainy day and get lost in the story for a few hours, but it's a lousy way to try to deal with real life.

Pi would tell me that I lack imagination, just as he told the investigators they lacked imagination when Pi claimed he couldn't "imagine" a bonsai tree since he's never seen one, as a way of mocking the investigators' reluctance to believe in Pi's carnivorous island. (Nice cultural stereotyping with the bonsai, by the way -- the investigators are Japanese.) But you see the problem, right? It's not a matter of lacking imagination. It's a matter of conflating things that are obviously imaginary with things that are obviously real. They're not one and the same. It's ludicrous to suggest otherwise. You might as well say that the story of Frodo and the Ring is every bit as real as the American Revolution.

Pi also tells us, quite pointedly, that choosing agnosticism is immobilizing, while atheists and religious folks make a courageous leap of faith. Yet immobility is precisely where Pi places us, so that by the time the book ends, you're stuck not knowing what to think about what you've just read. Do you accept the original shipwreck story just because it's more engrossing, even if it's less believable? Or do you accept the plausible but boring story Pi gives to the officials after he's rescued? Fanciful religious allegories or cold, scientific recitation of facts that might come from the mouth of an atheist -- we're expected to pick one or the other.

But it's a false dichotomy. We needn't make a choice between embracing religious tales merely because they're more interesting or settling for the sobering realities of science and reason. We can go as far as our reason will take us and then leave ourselves open to further possibilities -- just as Pi himself suggests. That's not immobility. That's intellectual honesty -- an admission that I don't know all the answers but am willing to keep an open mind about whatever else is presented to me.

Seems better than saying you might as well just accept the better story since it really makes no difference. That's laziness. And it doesn't make for a very good story.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,122 reviews46.6k followers
June 13, 2020
On the surface Life of Pi is a funny little book, heart-warming and audacious, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see how complex the story actually is.

The magically real elements make the story doubt itself; they call into question the probability of these events actually happening because they are so ridiculously unrealistic. As Pi says to those that disbelieve him:

"I know what you want. You want a story that won't surprise you. That will confirm what you already know. That won't make you see higher or further or differently. You want a flat story. An immobile story. You want dry, yeastless factuality.”


Such an assertion questions the truth of fiction. The details aren’t important. Change but a few of them and the journey Pi goes on remains the same. It does not matter if he was trapped on the boat with a bunch of zoo animals or people that reflected the animals in his life, the story remains the same: the truth is not changed. Belief is stretched to absolute breaking point and sometimes it needs to be with a story like this.

And such a thing harkens to the religious ideas Pi holds. He practices several religions believing they all serve the same purpose. This never wavers despite the violent and desperate times he eventually faces. And I really did appreciate this idea; it demonstrates unity in a world divided over matters of faith when it should not be. Again, are the details really that important? To a religious zealot such a thing boarders on blasphemy, though the harmony of such an idea speaks for itself in this book.

“If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”


Although I disagree with many of the sentiments in this book, sentiments that may belong to Pi as our narrator and perhaps even to the author himself, I appreciated the degree of time taken to clarify them. The stance on religion was an interesting one with disbelief being compared to a lack of movement in one’s life (not something that I see as truth.)

Zoos are also described as places of wonderment for animals rich in safety and easy living, which can be true in some cases, though the horrors of bad commercial zoos and the cruelty and exploitation that go with them are completely ignored. For me, this is not a point that can be overlooked in such fiction or in life. To do so is somewhat naïve no matter the good intentions of Pi.

I did not love Life of Pi, I never could, though it is a book that made me think about the purposes of fiction and the power of stories, true or untrue.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews149 followers
September 15, 2021
Life of Pi, Yann Martel

Life of Pi is a Canadian fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist is Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, an Indian boy from Pondicherry who explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Life of Pi, according to Yann Martel, can be summarized in three statements: "Life is a story... You can choose your story... A story with God is the better story."

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: هشتم ماه سپتامبر سال 2005میلادی

عنوان: زندگی پی؛ نویسنده: یان مارتل؛ مترجم: گیتا گرکانی؛ تهران، علم، 1383؛ در 530ص؛ شابک 9643053559؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان کانادا - سده 21م

نقل از آغاز: (پی، پسرکی ست که به دنبال حقیقت میگردد؛ یعنی همان کاری که هزاران هزار انسان در سراسر جهان به آن دلمشغول هستند؛ بعضیها پیروز میشوند و خیلیها شکست میخورند؛ در این میان کسانی نیز گمان میکنند پیروز شده اند؛ در صورتی که هنوز سر سوزنی هم به حق و حقیقت نزدیک هم نشده اند؛ اما یک نکته در همه ی این آدمها مشترک است؛ هر کس راه خودش را میرود؛ هر کس به شیوه ی خود کوشش میکند؛ تا به ذات جهان نزدیک شود؛ به تعداد انسانهای روی کره ی زمین راه وجود دارد؛ هرچند هیچکس نمیتواند به سرانجام رسیدن راهی را تضمین کند)؛ پایان نقل؛

داستان با پاراگراف بالا آغاز میشود، و «پی» برای پاسخ به سرگشتگی انسانی؛ راه تازه ای مییابد؛ و ...؛

زندگی «پی» درباره ی پسر جوانی بنام «پی پاتل»، فرزند یک صاحب باغ وحش در «هندوستان» است؛ «پی پاتل» در شانزده سالگی همراه خانواده‌ اش از «هند» به «کانادا» کوچ می‌کنند؛ خانواده «پی» در قسمت بار یک کشتی «ژاپنی»، در کنار جانوران «باغ‌ وحش»، به سوی خانه ی تازه ی خود سفر می‌کنند؛ در میانه ی راه، کشتی غرق می‌شود، و «پی» خو��ش را در قایق نجاتی به همراه یک «کفتار»، یک «اورانگوتان»، یک «گورخر» زخمی، و یک «ببر بنگال» دویست کیلوگرمی تنها می‌بیند؛ در هفته ی نخست سفرِ «پی»، با قایق نجات، تنها چیزی که بر همه چیز چیره است؛ کشمکش برای زندگی است؛ ادامه ی کتاب یادمان دویست و بیست و هفت روز گمشدگی «پی»، در دریاست

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 19/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 23/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for F.
294 reviews284 followers
July 3, 2018
I loved this book! I watched the film before reading the book and I loved both of them.
I enjoy short chapters so this was good for me. Best scene was the 3 religious men arguing about Pi's religion. Found it really smartly done and funny.
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,121 reviews7,548 followers
February 28, 2023
[Revised, pictures and shelves added 2/28/23]

For years I noticed this book on display, particularly its cartoonish paperback cover. Was it a children's book? This Pi stuff -- was it something about math? (Was it plagiarized? See story at end.)

It's a castaway story and like all castaway and shipwreck stories it's about human endurance, indomitable spirit and man vs. nature. The things that distinguish this story from Robinson Crusoe or Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away, is that the main character (Pi, short for Piscine) is trapped in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.


Pi is Indian and he's multi-religious - a true believer in Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. He comes from a family of zookeepers who were transporting their animals by freighter. This is how he wound up with a tiger in his lifeboat.

It's an inspiring book, but drags in spots -- more than 200 days at sea is a lot of fish and storm stories. I kept waiting for the multi-religious theme to play a real role in the story but it did so only peripherally, so the plot seems a bit disconnected from that theme.

In the end, we are offered two stories: one of murder and cannibalism and one of a journey in the lifeboat with animals. A key line comes at the end of the book as a throwaway: 'Which story do you prefer? So it is with God.' It's a decent read and an interesting plot but as I revise this review, with hindsight, I'm downgrading my rating from 4 to 3.

Life of Pi won the 2002 Booker prize and was a huge seller worldwide – 12 million copies and 1.5 million ratings on GR. But here’s a story I came across when I reviewed another book, The Strange Nation of Rafael Mendes, by Brazilian Jewish author Moacyr Scliar. Here’s the (paraphrased) story from the NY Times obituary for Scliar in 2011 and from Wikipedia:


Scliar wrote a novel, Max and the Cats, about a Jewish youth who flees Nazi Germany on a ship carrying wild animals to a Brazilian zoo. After a shipwreck the boy ends up sharing a lifeboat with a jaguar. The book achieved fame twice over. Critically praised on its publication in 1981, it touched off a literary storm in 2002 when the Canadian writer Yann Martel (b. 1963) won the Man Booker Prize for Life of Pi, about an Indian youth trapped on a boat with a tiger. Mr. Martel’s admission that he borrowed the idea led to an impassioned debate among writers and critics on the nature of literary invention and the ownership of words and images. Martel admitted he got the idea by reading a review of Scliar’s book but said he never read the book itself. “In a certain way I feel flattered that another writer considered my idea to be so good, but on the other hand, he used that idea without consulting me or even informing me,” Mr. Scliar told The NY Times. “An idea is intellectual property.”

Top image is a still from the movie on npr.org
The author from theguardian.co.uk
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,557 reviews4,343 followers
June 4, 2022
Life full of dangers… The heroic and exotic adventures… Are those adventures truly heroic?
Life of Pi is about the origin and nature of lying – in a hypocritical society heroic lies are preferable to the bitter truth.
A romantic and cloudless childhood…
To me, it was paradise on earth. I have nothing but the fondest memories of growing up in a zoo. I lived the life of a prince. What maharaja’s son had such vast, luxuriant grounds to play about? What palace had such a menagerie? My alarm clock during my childhood was a pride of lions.

Then one day a hero must embark on the fateful voyage…
In the near distance I saw trees. I did not react. I was certain it was an illusion that a few blinks would make disappear.
The trees remained. In fact, they grew to be a forest. They were part of a low-lying island. I pushed myself up. I continued to disbelieve my eyes. But it was a thrill to be deluded in such a high-quality way. The trees were beautiful. They were like none I had ever seen before. They had a pale bark, and equally distributed branches that carried an amazing profusion of leaves. These leaves were brilliantly green, a green so bright and emerald that, next to it, vegetation during the monsoons was drab olive.

One may lie beautifully for hours while it takes just few brief moments to tell the sorrowful truth.
Profile Image for هدى يحيى.
Author 10 books17.2k followers
May 14, 2019

كي أكون صريحة
الرواية جيدة ولكنها تحمل قدرا لا يُستهان به من الزيف
هل كانت الرواية على مستوى فكرتها؟
هل استطاعت نقل العذوبة الكونية والتناغم الطبيعي
وهل أوفت وعدها بكونها سطور تجعلك تؤمن بالله؟

تعال لنعرف سوياً

في البداية يبدو الكاتب متكلفا قليلا بحيلة هزيلة سبقه إليها البعض
فيوهمك بأن ال��كاية حقيقية
وتلاها عليه الهندي الحقيقي باي
وأنه مجرد سارد للأحداث
ًفجاءت الحيلة غير ناضجة دراميا

وبرغم محاكاته لقصة سبق وأن كتبها الروائي مواكير
والتي قدم الكاتب إليه إهداء الرواية
ظاناً ربما أنه بهذا يبرز ذكاءه

فيقول في وقت واحد أنا أخدعك
لا أفعل
صدقني من فضلك

أرجوك! ماذا تظن قارءك؟
طفل أم بالغ ساذج؟؟


مفتتح الرواية بجزئها الأول يصور لك -أو من المفترض أنه يصور- طبيعة شخصية باي
والتي من المفترض ان تكون سامية ، محبة ، باحثة عن الله
جميلة الروح والطباع

ولأن الكاتب بلا عاطفة حقيقية في رأيي
ولا يملك سموا روحانيا من أي نوعٍ كان
فقد جاءت النتيجة شديدة السوء

لقد أُقحمت الأديان ،وحب الله في القصة بلا مغزى
وجاءت كثير من الأفكار ساذجة ، وطفلية، ومضحكة

والأكثر إضاحكا هو أن الكاتب
يشعرك طوال الوقت بأنه يتحفك بالجمل الذكية
وهذا غالبا لا يحدث-
فهو لا يخلّف أكثر من أفكار درامية جيدة
صيغت بأفكار جدلية ساذجة في جُملتها

أعجبتني فكرة الكاتب بلقاء الملحد والمسلم في حديقة الحيوان
و إتخاذهما نفس الإسم
جميل ‏

س:ما الذي خرجت به من الحوار المبتور؟
ج:لا شيء ‏
س:أي أفكار حاول المؤلف ترويجها أو مناقشتها
ج:لا شيء

وتحول المشهد بسذاجة متناهية
إلى فارس-farce
أجوف لا يُضحك حتى
بداخل رواية قد وضعت في قالب يثير أحياناًالغيظ فالكاتب يريد حقا وصدقا إشعارك بذكائه الفذّ

أنا كاتب عبقري أتلاعب بكل الأيديولوجيات وأبسّطها
أنا أعارض بطريقة غير منطقية
وأطيح بالمقدمات والنتائج

أنا ذكي
أنا يان مارتل
ألا ترون؟



الرواية لا تساعد أحداً على الإيمان بالله
ولا تشجّع على الإلحاد
ولا علاقة لللأديان بقصة باي الحقيقية أو ‏المصطنعة
الكاتب أراد أن يكون فيلسوفاً ظاناً في نفسه القدرة على ذلك
أراد أن يصور الروحانيات
فجاءت طريقته مصطنعة ، مبتذلة في أغلبها

فكرة الجمع بين الأديان
المسيحية والهندوسية والإسلام
فكرة رائعة فيها كثير من التسامح الديني
ولكن مجدداً تمت معالجتها هنا بأفكار مبتورة
وبلا روح مؤمنة حقيقية

من يتسم بأي صفة إنسانية ويقول

أستطيع أن أتخيل آخر كلمة يرددها الملحد‏
إنه أبيض .. أبيض..إنه ال.. ال حب ...ياإلهي
تلك القفزة إلى الإيمان على سرير الموت
بينما اللاأدري ،في حال بقاءه مخلصاً لذاته العقلانية
في حال تمسكه بالواقعية الجافة
فيمكن ان يحاول تفسير الضوء الحار الذي يغمره على النحو التالي‏
إنه على الأرجح جفاف الأوكسيجين في ال .... د...ماغ،
وحتى الرمق الأخير يظل مفتقراً إلى الخيال
وتواقاً إلى القصة القابلة للتصديق

لاحظ أنه يصور لك إنساناً يموت
وهذا التصوير يبرز من شخص يزعم الروحانية وأنه يحب الله
أين هو الحب ؟؟؟
ما هذه السخرية اللاإنسانية والساذجة؟
ويستطيع الملحد واللا أدري الرد عليها بأسوأ منها
إنما المفترض أنها رواية عن التسامح والمحبة؟؟

الملحدون في عمومهم ليسوا بأشخاص أجلاف سذج
لا يدركون للحياة طعما
ولا هم بماديين بشكل كامل
ولا هم مقولبون في قوالب تجعلهم يتكلمون بلسان واحد

ولا المؤمنين ملائكة بأجنحة وردية
يحلقون بالقرب من الرب في سمو وحبور
وقلوبهم ترفرف ‏بالطهر والنقاء

ولا كل المسلمين متصوفة عائشين في زهد
وهم لا يبكون في كل ركعة سجود
مستشعرون الله في ‏سرائرهم و علانيتهم

واللاأدريون ليسوا بسذّج بدون طريق
و لا يتشككون طوال الوقت بلا رأي وبلا هوية

من سمح لك يا مارتل بقولبة العالم هكذا؟
ومن تكون أنت مؤمنا أو ملحدا لتحكم على غيرك وتصوره بهذه السذاجة؟

علاقة الإيمان بينك وبين ربك
وغالباً لا تشكل في الانسان صفات جديدة
فالأخلاق موجودة قبل نشوء الأديان
بل وتتطور مع تغيرات العصر ونسبة الوعي لدى الناس

إلا في بعض الثوابت


نأتي للحديث عن العالم الذي أعشقه
وأحب القراءة عنه والسباحة في دواخله
عالم الحيوان المهيب الممتع

الكاتب العبقري يخبرك من بدايات الرواية بسخرية واضحة
أن الحيوانات مكانهم الأفضل هو حديقة الحيوانات
حيث يتعلل بعلة مضحكة ومبكية
يقول لك ألا ترى الإنسان لا يشعر بالراحة في بيته؟
هل تستطيع أن تتصور حياتك في الشوارع بلا طعام ولا دفء؟
أليس من الأفضل أن تعيش في فندق خمس نجوم يخدمك ويقوم على راحتك؟
أم أنك لا سمح الله تفضل البقاء في الشارع معرضاً للخطر؟؟

بهذه الأفكار يبرر لك المؤلف مدى أهمية حدائق الحيوان التي تتناسب مع الحيوان
وتقيه شر البرية حيث الغذاء يندر أحياناً والخطر يتربص به دائماً

وأتمنى أن أعرف رأي الكاتب في حياته
إن تحول منزله لقفص في حديقة
حيث يشاهد التلفاز ، ويقرأ ‏الجريدة
ويذهب إلى التواليت أمام أعين جمهور
يقذف له أحيانا ثمرة فاكهة أو شطيرة برجر من ‏هارديز

وربما يأتي طفل بعصا طويلة
ليضربك على مؤخرتك ضربتين لا بأس منهما
لأن العصا لم تكسر ‏عظامك
فلتحمد الله

الحيوانات التي تضعونها في أقفاص
ثم تسخر��ن ممن يريد منحها حريتها
هي التي تتكسب من وراءها ‏
وتحولها مشروعاً تجارياً يدر الربح عليك وعلى عائلتك

أتفهّمُ أن تكونَ محبا لحيوانات حديقتك
وأن تشعر معهم بألفة
وأن تحب بعض عاداتهم
وتفرح بالوليد ‏الجديد منهم

أما أن تسخر ممن يتمنون عودتهم إلى البرية
حيث يعيشون حياتهم كما أرادها الله لهم
وبحيث تنبثق ‏غرائزهم الفطرية
التي ولدوا بها وطوروها على مدار ملايين السنين
فأنت لا تستحق إلا الإحتقار

وهناك اهتمام من بعض المنظمات الإنسانية
بحياة الحيوانات والتي توشك على الإنقراض منها
بحيث يوفرون لهم مساعدات مهمة
بدون إخراجهم من بيئتهم أو التدخل فيها
بل يسجلون بسكون وصمت
واهتمام شغوف بتلك المخلوقات الرائعة

فمثلا حيوانات المعامل كالغوريلا
والتي أرفض انسانيا اجراء التجارب عليها
يستطيع العلماء الرد على تلك الإعتراضات
بأن ذلك للخير الأسمى ولتقدّم صناعة الطب والأدوية
رغم أن الحال ليس كذلك دائما
ولكنهم لديهم حجة

فما حجتك أنت في وضعك إياهم في أقفاص
ليتفرج عليهم العامة ويدفعون لك الأموال
فيكسر أحدهم ذراع قردٍ مرّة
ويسحق الآخر منقار طائر مرة أخرى
ويُطعن منهم من يُطعن
ويتم ‏قطع أو العبث بالأعضاء التناسلية لآخر لا مشكلة
فهذه أفعال سادية قليلة
وكانت لتحدث مثلها في البرية
حيث أن الحيوانات تهدر كرامة مثيلاتها بهذا الشكل المخزي

أليس كذلك ؟؟
أخبرني يا محب الله يا مؤمن ؟؟؟


الرواية ككل مشوقة وبرغم إعتراضاتي على بعض أفكارها
وعلى أسلوب المؤلف ذاته
إلا أنني ولجمال عالم الحيوان
ومغامرة ريتشارد باركر الرائعة مع باي
قد قررتُ أن أتخطى السذاجة ‏لجمال بعض الأفكار والمواقف
وأستقر على 3 نجوم‏

ومما يعزز إعجابي بالرواية هي النهاية الصاعقة


والجزء الثالث من الرواية يدور في شبه إطار مسرحي بحواره
وإن كانت الرواية مكتوبة في الخمسينات مثلاً لاعتبرتُ الحوار ذكيا ممتعا
أما أن يصبح الحوار تقليدا أعمى
لمسرحيات مشهورة كتبت في منتصف القرن الماضي
حين بدأت النهضة العملية
فترى الكتّاب في حيرة من انتشار العلم الحديث ، وتأثيرات نظرية التطور
وحديثهم عن عنت العلماء أحياناً
وثغائهم بأنهم لا يصدقون إلا ما يرونه بأمّ أعينهم
وأنهم يؤمنون فقط بالحقائق

صدقاً أن تُكتب رواية حديثة حاملة نفس المفاهيم
وبنفس طريقة الحوار الساخرة
لهو شيء سخيف


هناك عاطفة غير حقيقية في هذه الرواية
‏ تعبير عن الحب
والحب أبحث عنه فلا أجده بروح الكاتب
شراسة ودموية غير مبررة في الوصف
أزعجتني وجعلتني أصرخ أحياناً

وكثييييير من السرد الخالي من العاطفة

يكفيه فخراً أنني
لم أتعاطف مع صبي صغير في عرض البحر
خائف وجائع
وشعرتُ بالحياد المطلق ‏نحوه
جائزة تقدم لك يا مارتل حقا

أما إن كان الكاتب في روايته يقصد السخرية من المؤمنيين بطريقة مبتكرة

إن كانت هذه هي توريته العبقرية
فسيكون بالفعل كاتباً أحمق
وستصبح الرواية شديدة الهزال درامياً

ومرة أخرى يسخر من عقائد لا حق له في السخرية منها

من أنت يا مارتل

على الهامش

بالنسبة للطبعة العربية
فحقاً لا تعليق
الترجمة شديدة السوء
وطبعة منشورات الجمل مليئة بالأخطاء الإملائية والمطبعية

لم أستطع تحملها وأكملتها بالانجليزية

Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews6,087 followers
July 9, 2017

ليست رواية قدر ماهي رحلة روحية..رحلة البحث عن الذات..و الله

والفيلم المقتبس عنها ليس مجرد مؤثرات وتمثيل..بل لوحة فنية قدمت جزء من روحانية الرواية بشكل فني بديع

لذا لا تكتفي بواحدة وتترك الأخري

It's One big journey into the Pacific Ocean.
Just you ,an Indian small boy and a royal Bengal Tiger.

But before you're thrown to that small life boat into the wide ocean...you learn so much about your companion Indian boy.. his curiosity about Life, the Creator, Ultimate Reality, Brahman, God ,Allah..

Little Pi picked the best and the greatest manners of every religion ; Hinduism,Christianity, and Islam..

His life in the quite Indian small city 'Pondicherry' which was -for me- the best part of the book with its spiritual events, the zoo beautifully,amazingly colorful illustrated by words described in the first Part of the novel.

But That was calm before the storm and the events of the Part 2 where you stick at that boat with them as I've said before..
So hard those 227,boring sometimes, bit disgusting but most of the time thrilling and exciting..
Into a wondrous ocean.. amazing life, tense with a wild tiger..fear and love...and searching for the Mercy of God..

Then the final part...and the Hardest ever....and it make u think ....and believe if you think by your heart and soul..
A Twist like no other...and a very great raw conclusion for this very spiritual journey.

The Movie Vs The Novel..

Well it may be the first time that I can't say which was better the movie or the novel..

The thing is the movie was stronger in some points "of course the visual effect and cinematography was BRILLIANT , a true piece of art" but otherwise it missed some important spirit of the novel..

**some points of the story itself, some switches in the characters -like the father role as the unbeliever was better in the movie than in the book-

**The journey at the ocean was less boring as the book and successful removed the very brutal and disgusting parts that filled that part at the book.

**BUT the novel was stronger at the spiritual points as I call some of the chapters :"A Journey through 3 Religions " "A Clash of 3 Religions" ,
but otherwise it's almost the same.

So Still I prefer the movie a little bit..the adaption was almost honest ,make more depth to the beauty of the journey.. manifest the beautiful spirit despite all the hardness of the journey ...

Mohammed Arabey
20 March to 2 April 2013

my first review before reading it

11-1-2013 "The Movie is amazing... so deep and visually amazing. Can't wait to read the book"

Just for fun
Profile Image for Justin.
291 reviews2,395 followers
June 1, 2019
People often see me walking down the street, casually, minding my own business, and they always stop and ask me, "Yo, Justin, what are you reading these days?"
And I'm always happy to stop and engage in conversation about what I'm reading, and I share a few thoughts about the book.
"Yeah, it's not bad. Pretty good so far."
"Really enjoying it! Better than I expected!"
"Oh man, it's alright I guess. Kinda slow."
I like to keep my comments pretty general in nature.
Also, that never actually happens to me.
Or does it?

Anyway, I did tell a few people I was reading Life of Pi and every single one of them said, "Oh yeah, isn't that the book about the guy and a tiger on a raft?" Because that's what everyone thinks of when they think of Life of Pi. The book about some guy on a boat with a tiger. And they are absolutely right. I mean, if you needed a one sentence synopsis of Life of Pi you would say it's about some dude floating around on a raft or a boat or something with a tiger, and that would be it. You nailed it.

Except Pi isn't on a lifeboat with Richard Parker (the tiger) until about halfway through the book. So that synopsis isn't enough because there is so much more going on in Life of Pi. So much more.

So let's start with the biggest reason this book gets a coveted five star rating from me: I got to learn all about zoos and the animals that inhabit them. I'm kidding, a little, kind of, but the beginning of the book is just fascinating to read. Pi weaves in stories of his childhood with facts about India, religion, animals, zoos, family, and all kinds of other stuff. One scene in particular that I loved was when Pi was trying to determine his religion and the choice that follows. Just humorous, insightful stuff all around, and I forgot all about what the book is really about. I won't remind you.

The story moves from all of that stuff, like a memoir I guess, to an adventure story. Now, I'm not a huge adventure story kind of guy, but the writing was so engaging and the audiobook narration was so intoxicating that I kept plugging along with all the craziness Pi finds himself in. It gets pretty violent and a little disgusting at times, but you're reading about wild animals and about a guy who is caught in a horrible tale of survival. It's not too bad.

Then, the end of the book comes along, and oh my god I can't even tell you about the end of the book. It's awesome though. Just trust me on this one if you haven't read it already. You've probably read it already. You've probably seen the movie, too, you awesome person you. Look at you go, all awesome and stuff.

I'm gonna watch the movie as soon as possible. Looking forward to it. This was a fantastic audiobook that I spent almost a month listening to during my morning commute. Whatever I pop in next has a tough act to follow.

January has been a pretty solid month of reading for me. Definitely ended it on a high note. I don't rate books five stars very often because I'm am overly critical book critic, but this is a five star read that deserves a little bit of your time.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
1,195 reviews9,447 followers
August 29, 2012
’ Life is a peephole, a single tiny entry onto a vastness.

We have all heard the phrase ‘you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.’ While this is a good life lesson, especially when taken as a metaphor that extends beyond books and into people, places, foods, etc., sometimes the cover of a novel is very telling of what lies within. Yann Martel’s Life of Pi wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve. A quick glance at the cover shows the overzealous stamp of ‘Winner of the Man Booker Prize’, INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER, the indication that, yes, this is ‘A Novel’, and an image that both depicts the major plot point of the novel, thus spoiling the surprise of who Richard Parker really is. All this praise lauded upon the cover is instantly telling that this is a novel that has reached a wide audience, and is most likely aimed towards wide critical acclaim. That is all fine, and bravo to Mr. Martel for being able to leave his mark on the bestseller list, something I can only imagine in my wildest of wildest dreams, but sometimes when reaching for a large audience you have to elbow out a small percentage of readers. I am that small percentage that was elbowed out by Martel’s attempt to make an accessible novel that will touch the reader on a spiritual level. This is a difficult novel to review as, firstly, I did enjoy reading the book. I gave in to reading this book that I have been purposely avoiding after reading the excellent review from mi Hermana. I had a lot of fun discussing this book with her, texting her my shocks and suprises in the plot, and discussing the book in several threads with fellow Goodreaders. As anyone can see with a quick glance at the overall ratings, this book seems to really strike a chord in many readers, yet also brings a large crowd of dissenters. While I did extract a good deal of pleasure from the novel, it just didn’t sit well with me at the same time. In all fairness to the novel, and to my usual reading list, I have to dissect this book with the same views of novels that I would any other. This begs the question as to ‘why do we read?’, and this reason differs from person to person much like each persons meaning of life – a theme explored in Pi. Life of Pi was a pleasurable read that suffered from a heavy-handed serving of morality. While Martel delivers one charming phrase after the next with a graceful flow, he would have greatly benefited from a touch of subtlety.

All to often, Martel would draw conclusions for the reader. A prime example occurs in the first few pages when Pi’s science teacher visits the Zoo (a zoo that he does not hold back from explaining how it serves as a metaphor for humanity), and calls out the name of well-known scientists whose studies pertain to the activities of the animals he is currently viewing. Martel spoils the moment by explaining that Mr. Kumar liked to prove to himself ‘that everything was order’. It felt as if Martel didn’t believe his readers could connect the dot. Even more obscure ideas are spoiled in such a manner. When a rain of flying fish saves Pi and Richard Parker from certain hunger, he thanks Vishnu saying ‘once you saved the world by taking the form of a fish. Now you have saved me by taking the form of a fish’. While I would not have made this connection, it ruins that ‘ah-ha!’ moment for those that do. It is that special moment of understanding an allusion in literature that keeps me reading a wide variety of texts, and it seems insulting to have someone to make connections without giving you an opportunity. Even at the very end, in his shocking twist of an ending (I must profess this novel has an incredible conclusion), the two Chinese men literally draw the connections for you saying something to the effect of ‘oh, this is this and that means that…’. This all seems to be Martel’s way of making sure his message gets heard, and is able to reach everyone. It is a noble goal, and it gets people who do not typically read to like and enjoy a book, so I cannot necessarily knock him for it as that was his goal, but this is all to my chagrin.

‘It's important in life to conclude things properly,’ Pi explains, ‘only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse’. The question now is, does Martel conclude things properly? I personally loved the conclusion to this book. He successfully pulls the rug out from under the reader and exposes the real message behind the book. Without spoiling anything, this novel makes a good statement on the powers of storytelling with both a fun plot device and well crafted statements such as ‘that's what fiction is about, isn't it, the selective transforming of reality? The twisting of it to bring out its essence?’ Had he left it at that, it would have been wonderful and allowed for mass interpretability and the reader could have easily connected it to spirituality. However, Martel forces the connection to religion down the reader’s throat. The whole beginning section of the novel, which details Pi’s exploration of various religions, seems irrelevant for the majority the novel. Occasionally he will pray or include some stunning statements on the beauty of life and the grace of God/gods, but it seems to have been only there to make sure you were looking for the religious metaphors in the plot and comes across as Martel with a death grip on the readers head, jerking it back and forth shouting ‘look here! Notice that! Remember what we talked about!?’ While much of the focus on spirituality was well done, it was far too heavy-handed and led to a rather narrow interpretation on the ending.

My major concern is that Martel only gave us what he thought the reader would want, making quotes such as ‘ I know what you want. You want a story that won’t surprise you. That will confirm what you already know. That won’t make you see higher or further or differently,’ seem like he wasn’t being as ironic with the ending as he hoped it would be. While the conclusion comes out as ‘bet you didn’t see that coming’, it really doesn’t say anything that hasn’t been said before. The novel is heralded as being an affirmation of faith, and that’s exactly what it is, an affirmation. It isn’t going to challenge your beliefs, although he does an excellent job allowing different religious figures to challenge the differences in belief of one another even if it is the same concepts anyone would learn in a 100 level humanities course; it isn’t going to convert any readers to a life of devotion; it only provides a blanket and a comfort to those that already believe. Which, once again, is not a bad thing, if that is what you are looking for. It reminded me of something a professor once told me in a World Religions course. He described church as something that, and this is his opinion, is a crutch for those who needed it. He compared the obligation to attend to telling a girlfriend you only hang out with them because you feel you have to and are obligated to. While his opinion is a bit harsh and easily offensive, what he was really trying to say is you should believe because you want to, not because you have to. Martel makes it seem like you have to believe in these things, and I see why that makes this book hard to swallow for someone who doesn’t. Once again, in hopes to reassure and reach a large audience, Martel rudely elbows out the remainder. However, I really feel uncomfortable discussing beliefs on the open seas of the internet, and I really hope nothing said here offends you as that is not my intention. Please understand I am only speaking in relevance to my thoughts on a book, not on religion. The insistence of Martel to wrap a cool concept with spirituality is a major reason why it is so difficult to talk about this book. It is hard to separate the two ideas, but I’m doing my best to keep this focused on the literary aspects. I’m getting too self-conscious! The whole point here is that a lot of what Martel says has been said before, better, and with more willingness to evoke a change in the reader.

All that said, there is a lot that I truly enjoyed about this book. If you push all the aforementioned details aside, this was a wild ride. This made me want to visit zoos and hug a tiger. Look how cute this tiger is: Tell me you don’t want to hug that! I really enjoyed the wealth of zoological knowledge Martel bestows upon the reader, and his insistence on seeming ‘realistic’ with his animals. After reading this book, you will know why you should never, ever try to hug a tiger or take a wild animal for granted. He makes an interesting point how we force cute cuddly animal toys on children and make them think they are some domestic pet. While this is used as an excellent point that humans are the villain, which is easily slotted into the religious issues as an explanation that it isn’t religion that causes violence but the people abusing the rhetoric, it does seem ironically opposed to his final statement of how religion glosses over the grimy, difficult to handle details of life and makes it easier to handle. Are cute cuddly animal toys then religion? This novel is a very positive message to the world, and anything promoting peace and harmony can’t be all that bad. I enjoyed statements such as ‘ If there's only one nation in the sky, shouldn't all passports be valid for it?’, which is an important idea considering the violence that takes place around the world. I also enjoyed how the animal story is also chock full of scientific facts and details, which fuses the idea of religion and science together instead of showing them as opposites. Thre were some symbolism, the ones he left untainted by a forced explanation, that really struck me. The tiger itself is open for many views, either as God, Pi, or life itself - something we must face and tame lest it destroy us. However, could it be the killer inside us all, an urge and animalistic force we must keep in check in order to exist in a civilized society? In a way, I felt that the ending could almost be an attack on religion, showing it as nothing more than a pretty way of viewing a world as ugly as our own. I felt that the tarpauline served as a similar symbol. It was a feeling of security, something to stand on, but underneath was the violent truth of a deadly tiger. Perhaps it was our personal sense of security which is actually just thin and flimsy. When Martel doesn't slap us with his meaning, it is quite good.

I was simply not the intended audience for this novel. However, Martel has a positive message that he wanted to reach a wide audience in hopes to spread peace to a world badly in need of it, so I cannot be too harsh on him. He achieved his goals for the novel, but his novel did not reach my goals for literature. Still, this was a fun read and I would recommend it. Just ask yourself, ‘why read?’ and if the cons of this review outweigh the pros, then this novel is not for you. But if you desire something that will entertain, broaden your horizons of spirituality if you don’t know much about various religions, or reaffirm your faith, well look no further.

Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous possessive love that grabs at what it can.

Here's more tigers. Because you deserve them:

Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews1,083 followers
June 8, 2022
“It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards, even unto our names.”

Summary of Life of Pi by Yann Martel

As a sort of parable on the value of storytelling, Yann Martel's fantastical adventure, Life of Pi, is astonishing. In the most desperate of circumstances, while Pi is on his lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, imagination and storytelling are the keys to Pi's incredible story of survival. Issues about believability, what really happened on the boat, take a backseat to wonder, love, creativity and to a certain extent, madness. The novel is heavy on spirituality, but it is compelling and Pi's evolving relationship with Richard Parker keeps their 227 days at sea interesting.
Profile Image for Jenny.
377 reviews14 followers
November 30, 2007
Once, while riding the bus, I told a friend I hated this book. A guy I'd never met turned around to tell me that he was shocked and this was a beautiful book. I can sum up my hatred of this book by saying this: At the end of the book a character asks "Do you prefer the story with animals or without?" I can say with conviction I prefer the story without the animals--the stupid, boring, symbolic animals.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,770 reviews1,176 followers
October 31, 2021
2004 review: I've always remembered this book leaving a deep lasting impact on me; appearing from the start to be one thing, and being by the end something completely different! My naïve younger self labelled this as a horror read, which I understand - but this a lot more than that.

Yann Martel's expert and peerless mix of fact and fiction, and of adventure and magical realism, is a joy to behold. Ultimately this book has one of those ideas, that some readers may struggle with - that only you can decide what really happened on Pi's journey, but it works really well for me. One of my must-read top 100 books. My stuck-up younger self only gave this an 8 out 12, but I'm sure a re-read will right this wrong one day.
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Profile Image for Kevin Ansbro.
Author 5 books1,600 followers
July 9, 2019
I'm a huge fan of Yann Martel's allegorical story.
I read Life of Pi shortly after it had won the Booker, heavily intrigued by the story's improbable premise (boy in lifeboat with Bengal tiger). I was keen to see how the author could pull this off.
But pull it off he did, taking me back to a wondrous childhood of adventure tales and fables.
And you are welcome to whack me over the head with a leather-bound copy of War and Peace, but I am such a sucker for exotic book covers!
Please read the book, don't see the film: Ditto, Captain Corelli.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
3,185 reviews2,102 followers
November 13, 2019
UPDATE: Some will see this as good news...there is a movie based on this piffling 21st-century Kahlil Gibran ripoff, directed by Ang Lee, coming out...trailer here. As one can readily see, no smarm or treacle has been spared.

The whole world has a copy of this book, including me...but not for long. Over 100,000 copies of this on GR, so how many trees died just for our copies alone? Don't go into the forest, ladies and gents, the trees will be lookin' for revenge after they read this book.

There is no question that Martel can write lovely sentences: "Those first hours were associated in my memory with one sound, not one you'd guess, not the yipping of the hyena or the hissing of the sea: it was the buzzing of flies. There were flies aboard the lifeboat. They emerged and flew about in the way of flies, in great, lazy orbits except when they came close to each other, when they spiralled together with dizzying speed and a burst of buzzing." (p118, paper ed.) Good, good stuff, nicely observed and handsomely rendered, and not enough to lift this dreary pseudo-philosophical rehash of Jonathan Livingston Seagull into greatness.

Piscine Molitor (Pi) Patel does not wring my heartstrings on his spiritual quest across the vasty deep, accompanied by a tiger named Richard Parker, to a carnivorous island, thence to Mexico to answer to a pair of noxious Japanese stereotypes and, ultimately, to Canada...sort of an anodyne for all the adventure he's been through, the way the author presents it. If I were Canadian or Torontoid (or whatever they call themselves), I'd be livid with fury over this crapulous insult to my homeland.

But hey, I'm Texan and Murrikin, if they don't care enough to run this yahoo outta town, why should I? The yodeling of joyous awakening that fogged this book on its debut..."a story to make you believe in the soul-sustaining power of fiction" ugh!; "could renew your faith in the ability of novelists to invest even the most outrageous scenario with plausible life" oh really?; "a fabulous romp through an imagination by turns ecstatic, cunning, despairing and resilient" *retch*...made my "oh yeah?" follicle erect its sturdy little hair, so I avoided it. But, in all fairness, people I love and respect lived it, so it's a mitzvah to read it, right?

Public notice: My spiritual debt to the opinions of others is, with the reading of this ghastly book, herewith Paid In Full For Good. Most strongly and heartily NOT RECOMMENDED.

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Profile Image for Teresa Jusino.
Author 7 books57 followers
March 24, 2013
On the surface, it's the story of a 16 year old Indian boy named "Pi" who, when he and his zookeeping family decide to transplant themselves and some animals to Canada, ends up stranded on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a 450-lb Bengal tiger named "Richard Parker."
Don't let the Rudyard Kipling-ness of the plot fool you! In reality, this book is an examination of faith in all its forms. Young Pi loves God, and to prove it he becomes Christian and Muslim in addition to his native Hinduism. He also loves animals, and much of the book examines animal psychology and its relationship to human psychology in a vibrant, interesting way.

This book had me asking questions about my life, my beliefs, and my society on just about every page....and when the reader gets to the end (which I won't spoil here), the reader is forced to ask themself the kind of person they really are. If ever there was a novel that could be called a litmus test, it's this one. "The Life of Pi" will, at the very least, entertain through its sharp storytelling, but it can also help a reader examine how they see the world - and isn't that the point of great literature?

Favorite quotes:

"I felt a kinship with him. It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith. LIke me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them - and then they leap."

"But I don't insist. I don't mean to defend zoos. Close them all down if you want (and let us hope that what wildlife remains can survive in what is left of the natural world). I know zoos are no longer in people's good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both."

"And so, when she first heard of Hare Krishnas, she didn't hear right. She heard 'hairless Christians', and that is what they were to her for many years. When I corrected her, I told her that in fact she was not so wrong; that Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat-wearing Muslims."

"Christianity is a religion in a rush. Look at the world created in seven days. Even on a symbolic level, that's creation in a frenzy. To one born in a religion where the battle for a single soul can be a relay race run over many centuries, with innumerable generations passing along the baton, the quick resolution of Christianity has a dizzying effect. If Hinduism flows placidly like the Ganges, then Christianity bustles like Toronto at rush hour. It is a religion as swift as a swallow, as urgent as an ambulance. It turns on a dime, expresses itself in the instant. In a moment, you are lost or saved. Christianity stretches back through the ages, but in essence it exists only at one time: right now."
Profile Image for Kimber Silver.
Author 1 book369 followers
August 28, 2022
"It's important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise, you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse."
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi

I have struggled to write this review. Not because I didn’t love Life of Pi, because I absolutely did, but because it is difficult to put into words where this incredible tale has taken me.

Throughout the reading, I have found myself utterly horrified and fascinated in equal measure. I can honestly say I’ve never pondered life, religion, survival - and how far a human can be pushed - as deeply as I have since I began my journey with Piscine Molitor Patel. I questioned faith and contemplated how far it could carry someone who's hanging on by a thread. I asked myself if I could have survived even half of what Pi had endured? Probably not, but who knows how strong the will to live is until it's put to the test? This is undoubtedly a book that gave me pause for thought.

Nature is as volatile as it is beautiful and, as an animal lover, I must warn those who might be disturbed by scenes of savagery (i.e. the natural order of life and death as it exists in the animal kingdom).
This story is dazzling, funny, gruesome, allegorical and altogether unforgettable.
Life of Pi is a powerful read.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,292 reviews10.7k followers
August 16, 2011
Oh finally I get it. I read this a couple of years ago and it was supposed to be all about God. But no, it's not a religious allegory at all. It's about the collapse of communism. As the ocean liner of communism sinks under the weight of its own massive incompetence (a good idea, but the captain was drunk and the crew were sticky-fingered rascals), you leap overboard, clamber on to the only available boat (capitalism) only to find that there's a giant tiger on board which will eat you unless you can keep feeding it your hapless fellow-creatures.

When I thought this novel was about God I gave it 2 stars. It didn't make sense. But now I realise - it's a perfect metaphor - three stars.
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews828 followers
April 5, 2017
This is not a story of a boy and his BFF tiger.
This is nothing like Calvin and Hobbes.
The tiger is nothing like Tigger or Lassie.
This is not a YA book.

That is worth pointing out I think, because the movie poster and trailer gave me this impression.

This book has teeth.

My initial thoughts on Life of Pi is that it is a book that demands to be read slowly due to a rambling nonlinear narrative in the first few chapters. Actually it is not, it can be read fairly quickly once you hit your stride with it. Any way, the novel got off to a slow start for me though I found the intro "Author's Notes" immediately appealing. Initially I was also a bit confused about which part is narrated by the author and which by Piscine "Pi" Molitor Patel‎ the book's protagonist. That sorts itself out after a while as I settled into the author's narrative style and the book's structure. There are some expositions about about running a zoo and animal psychology which I find very interesting. I certainly know some people who believe zoos are immoral and all the caged animals should be set free, this book presents a plausible case for why this may not be such a good idea and that the animals are unlikely to be grateful to the liberators. I am not normally a fan of infodumps, but these expositions are affably written and mostly non-technical.

Once the main part of the story begins, where poor Pi is cast away on a life boat with some wild animals the books becomes very engaging and I was devouring his adventure and could not wait to find out what happen next. The ocean adventure part of the book is really a riveting read. As Pi settles into his life on the life boat the book becomes trippy and metaphysical in parts. If you read online discussions about this book you will find several interpretation of what it all means and what really transpires in the book. To go into too much detail about this ambiguous aspect of the book would risk spoiling the book for potential readers, suffice to say that the book left me with plenty of food for thought which is still swirling in my head as I write.

Art by Neanderthal-Jam

There are elements of humour scattered throughout the book, the style of humor tend to be fairly subtle, my favorite humorous scene involves three bickering wise men and a boy of multiple faiths. I also love how the major supporting character Richard Parker came by his name. My favorite aspect of the book is the prose style which is lyrical, accessible and generally very pleasant to read. Here is one of my favorite passages:
"I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen every day. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen."
Even if you are entirely irreligious you can still appreciate the eloquence of the writing.

This book is often classified as a fantasy but I wonder if it is actually more scifi? Some strange places and things are rationalized with scientific assumptions, particularly a mysterious island that appears in the last section of the book. Some people are understandably frustrated and annoyed by the epilogue of the book where everything seems to turn upside down, or not depending on how you want to interpret this part of the book. It surprised the hell out of me but adds to the enjoyment of the book, and I don't think it invalidates anything that goes on in the preceding chapters. Looking at other Goodreads reviews Life of Pi seems to be divisive among its readers. Quite a few people find the book pretentious and not as intelligent or profound as the author presents it to be. They may be on to something, I don't really know. Oftentimes I find the reviewers just as pretentious as the book they are criticizing, is this a case of an eye for an eye? Personally I just wanted it to be entertaining and interesting and it meets these criteria in spades. A little pretentiousness does not bother me as long as the book is a good read.

I have no qualms at all about recommending this book, may be you will love it like I do, may be it will make you mad and you will throw it at the wall. I really don't know how it will be for you. Totally worth a shot in my opinion.

Art by gluecifer
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