“Life of Pi”, “Man of the Booker” prizewinner of 2002 by Yann Martel, an extraordinary tale of survival of a sixteen year-old boy on the Pacific Ocean for seven months is a compelling answer to those readers usually drubbing to prizewinning books as boring and turgid literature.
Narrated in a subtle, lucid voice of the character, Piscine Molitor Patel, with a powerful linguistic richness and lapses of humor, the author journeys through the life of the eight year old boy, in the South Indian town of Pondicherry, the transition of his tongue twisting name into Pi, his brother’s dominating and mother’s tender love, his father’s zoo business giving him insight into animal kingdom, and his curiosity about God and religions.
Life takes a tragic turn when the family decides to sell the zoo and move to Canada, the ship sinks, with only survivals being the boy, a hyena, a zebra, an Orang Utan and a 420 pound white Bengal tiger, all on a lifeboat. Macabre details often bloodcurdling follow, of the animals falling prey to their predators, which finally leaves the boy with the deadliest of all, the tiger.
With the deep sadness of losing the family, was the burning desire to live on. Was it his early lesson by his intuitive father or his deep devotion to god that not only saved his life, but also gave the strength and skills for his survival, reducing the vegetarian to a cannibal, yet retaining his amazing humane side at the end of the ordeal that made him sad when “Richard Parker left him unceremoniously”?
An unusual blend of psychology with streaks of metaphysics and elements of faith and mystery; author brilliantly weaves his imagination with all the plausibility of realism giving readers an engrossing, gripping but most importantly an endearing read.