Life of Pi

Life of Pi

Large Print - 2001
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Life of Piis a masterful and utterly original novel that is at once the story of a young castaway who faces immeasurable hardships on the high seas, and a meditation on religion, faith, art and life that is as witty as it is profound. Using the threads of all of our best stories, Yann Martel has woven a glorious spiritual adventure that makes us question what it means to be alive, and to believe. Growing up in Pondicherry, India, Piscine Molitor Patel -- known as Pi -- has a rich life. Bookish by nature, young Pi acquires a broad knowledge of not only the great religious texts but of all literature, and has a great curiosity about how the world works. His family runs the local zoo, and he spends many of his days among goats, hippos, swans, and bears, developing his own theories about the nature of animals and how human nature conforms to it. Pi's family life is quite happy, even though his brother picks on him and his parents aren't quite sure how to accept his decision to simultaneously embrace and practise three religions -- Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. But despite the lush and nurturing variety of Pi's world, there are broad political changes afoot in India, and when Pi is sixteen his parents decide that the family needs to escape to a better life. Choosing to move to Canada, they close the zoo, pack their belongings, and board a Japanese cargo ship called theTsimtsum. Travelling with them are many of their animals, bound for zoos in North America. However, they have only just begun their journey when the ship sinks, taking the dreams of the Patel family down with it. Only Pi survives, cast adrift in a lifeboat with the unlikeliest of travelling companions: a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Thus begins Pi Patel's epic, 227-day voyage across the Pacific, and the powerful story of faith and survival at the heart ofLife of Pi. Worn and scared, oscillating between hope and despair, Pi is witness to the playing out of the food chain, quite aware of his new position within it. When only the tiger is left of the seafaring menagerie, Pi realizes that his survival depends on his ability to assert his own will, and sets upon a grand and ordered scheme to keep from being Richard Parker's next meal. As the days pass, Pi fights both boredom and terror by throwing himself into the practical details of surviving on the open sea -- catching fish, collecting rain water, protecting himself from the sun -- all the while ensuring that the tiger is also kept alive, and knows that Pi is the key to his survival. The castaways face gruelling pain in their brushes with starvation, illness, and the storms that lash the small boat, but there is also the solace of beauty: the rainbow hues of a dorado's death-throes, the peaceful eye of a looming whale, the shimmering blues of the ocean's swells. Hope is fleeting, however, and despite adapting his religious practices to his daily routine, Pi feels the constant, pressing weight of despair. It is during the most hopeless and gruelling days of his voyage that Pi whittles to the core of his beliefs, casts off his own assumptions, and faces his underlying terrors head-on. As Yann Martel has said in one interview, "The theme of this novel can be summarized in three lines. Life is a story. You can choose your story. And a story with an imaginative overlay is the better story." And for Martel, the greatest imaginative overlay is religion. "God is a shorthand for anything that is beyond the material -- any greater pattern of meaning." InLife of Pi, the question of stories, and of what stories to believe, is front and centre from the beginning, when the author tells us how he was led to Pi Patel and to this novel: in an Indian coffee house, a gentleman told him, &
Publisher: Toronto : Knopf, c2001.
Edition: Large print ed.
ISBN: 9780676977608
Characteristics: 473 p. ;,24 cm.


From the critics

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Jun 14, 2019


Oct 12, 2017

I found that watching the movie before reading the book actually helped visualize some of the imagery. Pi's view on life and religion is inspiring. Excellent plot and difficult to put down.

Sep 27, 2017

"This book will make you believe in God."

Or not.

This book made me feel that whoever wrote the line above didn't have a clue about what might make anyone believe in god...or anything about islands or meerkats, either. This book seemed to be a metaphor for a lot of things, but I couldn't care enough about it to waste my time trying to guess what it might be. It was interesting enough to read...and silly enough to make me hoot when the absurdities cropped up. It assumes readers are either a lot smarter or a lot stupider than they probably are; I felt "used" after reading this book. But I was able to finish it and I can't say that for every book out there.

Aug 23, 2017

What I have enjoyed mostly about the book Life of Pi by Yann Martel was the creative story line. It was interesting how the author included the concept of religion with the life of a young castaway boy (living on a rescue boat with a tiger). There wasn't anything I had disliked about the book, as the author had done a splendid job with the plot. I felt that this book was like one of those survival genre-based books. If you are interested in these types of books and are interested in learning about some religions this book is for you. When you read this book, you will feel as if you are in his situations. I rate it a solid 5. @SirAbstractCanvas of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, is a fiction, adventure novel about a young Indian boy and his journey with religion and spiritualism. Written with many different changing perspectives throughout the novel, the majority of the book is told by the protagonist, Pi, himself. I feel as though this novel conveys its themes and messages very clearly through the use of literary devices. Although I read this novel for a class assignment, I feel as though this book has helped open a new perspective for me. The message about religion and faith is very original, and something that has changed my view on this topic. I recommend this novel to anyone with an open mind and heart, looking to be enlightened. I give this novel 3.5/5.
@TheCuriousBookworm of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

An inspiring fantasy novel that focuses on faith, the human mind and spirit. This book is about a young boy named Pi Patel who is the son of an Indian zookeeper that is planning on moving to Canada. But the ship that they are on sinks and Pi’s entire family dies. Now the sole survivor and on a lifeboat, Pi is met with a tiger, hyena, zebra, and orangutan. Pi -- an Indian vegetarian that has never been on a ship before -- has to survive in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat full of animals. A story about determination, courage, and heartache which will fascinate, excite, and sometimes bore you. Rating 5/5
- @Henny_Lee of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel begins this extraordinary, yet bizarre novel, Life of Pi, as a teenager in Pondicherry, India, where his father is a zoo keeper. Deciding to immigrate to Canada, Pi’s father sells off most of the zoo animals; bringing few animals with them on a boat to their new home. Pi’s whole family dies on sea when they meet a storm. Pi must now survive on a lifeboat with an adult Bengal Tiger, called Richard Parker. This outlandish story, written by Yann Martel, is deceptively complex with many larger themes, such as religion, the force of nature, survival, and fate. The novel goes a little fast, when looking at what Pi goes through in 227 days. Overall, it is a fun book to read, challenging your imagination. The only thing that was confusing was if the story was true. In my opinion the book is better than the movie. Life of Pi is one of the best books I have read, even though there is more to the book than the eye can see. I fully recommend anyone to read this unique and creative book. I give Life of Pi a 4.5/5 rating.
- @CrimsonLightning of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Jul 10, 2017

one of my favorite books.

Mar 20, 2017

Beautiful book! I could not put it down. It gave meaning in the writing and had you reflecting each climax.

Feb 03, 2017

I quite enjoyed this book. Having jst finished it I am not sure if I would read it again, thus I would actually give this book a rating of 4.5. I had attempted to read it about 4 years ago and it fell to the wayside after the book was stolen from me and I didn't feel compelled to pick it up again. I had watched the movie but I didn't find it memorable as when I read the book I didn't remember much about the film other than the scene with the flying fish because it was visually striking. I found it easy to read and manageable with the short chapters (seriously, one of my favourite things about books). I particularly liked the bit at the end with the Japanese translation. I didn't find that at any point the book was dragging or I was skimming bits. Quite a solid read.

Dec 21, 2016

I read this book once a few years ago, and I never really appreciated it for what it was. Reading it again, I really found that this book contains more then meets the eye. The ending changed my whole view of the book, and I'm glad I re-read this again.

trevordunfordswife Nov 24, 2016

It must be said again, this is an extraordinary novel. Yann Martel has crafted a true masterpiece, a once-in-a-lifetime book that will stand the test of time and live up to anyone's expectations. 'Pi' Patel, named after a swimming pool (!) begins life in India and works as a zookeeper's assistant for his father in the family zoo until the day his dad takes the family and some of the animals to America in an unsafe cargo boat. This novel describes what happens during that ill-fated crossing. It is a complex read. The events themselves are simple: the quotidian survival tasks he must perform to exist at all, let alone with Richard Parker on the ready are juxtaposed with his innermost thoughts on God, religion - indeed, all religions, in fact just about everything and anything you can think about on a long ocean voyage all by yourself! The movie was surprisingly good but cannot compare to the shades of complexity that lie within this amazing novel.
Highly recommend to anyone who likes to think.

ArapahoeHannah Aug 08, 2016

So much philosophy and need for survival. My heart tugged at this one.

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Mar 28, 2019

jackycwyeung thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Dec 21, 2016

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Mar 29, 2015

eparti thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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queenowly thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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The_Light_Particle Dec 19, 2012

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Feb 26, 2019

“Come aboard if your destination is oblivion- it should be our next stop. We can sit together. You can have the window seat if you want. But it's a sad view.”

Jul 14, 2016

Pi, upon being afraid to find a Bengal Tiger in his life boat: "You might think I lost all hope at that point. I did. And as a result I perked up and felt much better, We see that in sports all the time, don't we? The tennis challenger starts strong, but soon loses confidence in his playing. The champion racks up his game. But in the final set, when the challenger has nothing left to lose, he becomes relaxed again, insouciant, daring. Suddenly he's playing like the devil and and the champion must work hard to get those last points. So it was with me."

Apr 03, 2015

"It's important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go" - 'Pi Patel'

Apr 03, 2015

"There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless"
- 'Pi Patel'

Dec 23, 2013

"... animals don't escape to somewhere but from some something. Something within their territory has frightened them-the intrusion of an enemy, the assault of a dominant animal, a startling noise- and set off a flight reaction."

AmandaVollmershausen Oct 12, 2012

"Let's hear your story," he said, panting.

"Once upon a time there was a banana and it grew. It grew until it was large, firm, yellow and fragrant. Then it fell to the ground and someone came upon it and ate it."

He stopped rowing. "What a beautiful story!"

"Thank you." (Pg 316)

AmandaVollmershausen Oct 12, 2012

Then I raced up the hill on the right-to offer thanks to Lord Krishna for having put Jesus of Nazareth, whose humanity I found so compelling, in my way. (pg 73)

Sep 21, 2012

“All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways.”
― Yan Martel


Add a Summary
Aug 06, 2015

A beautiful book by Yann Martel on the marvels of the imagination and on survival. A great ending and many surprising twists. Made into a movie as well. Well worth it.

Jan 30, 2013

Pi Patel grew up in India swimming and hanging out in his family owned Zoo. He practices Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, after visiting a church, Mosque, and a Hindu Temple on a vacation. When he was 16 his family and him left for Canada on a Japanese Cargo ship but never reached their destination, due to a storm causing the ship to sink. Pi's family died but Pi survived leaving him alone... Yet he wasn't the only one to survive, a 450 pound tiger named Richard Parker survived also along with a Hyena, a wounded Zebra, and an Orangutan. Pi Patel was on a small lifeboat stranded in the middle of the ocean with 4 wild animals. The Hyena eats the Zebra alive and then also kills the orangutan. The Tiger Richard Parker then killed the Hyena. Now Pi was just alone with a grown tiger. Pi and this Tiger survived 227 days stranded in the middle of the ocean until he reached Mexico. Richard Parker walked away into the jungle in Mexico never to be seen again by Pi. After Japanese authorities hear of a Japanese Cargo Ship sinking and one lone survivor they drive down to meet Pi, to get answers out of him. He tells his story, but the Japanese do not believe it and ask him to tell the true story, he then tells of another gruesome version of the story with humans in the place of the animals. Not knowing which story was the true one the Japanese leave and Pi spends the rest of his life in Canada.

The_Light_Particle Dec 19, 2012

A young Indian and his parents cast off to move to Canada when an unexpected storm happens that killed his family.Now all he has is a simple lifeboat and a adult male tiger and has to adapt to it if he wants to survive...

Jun 02, 2008

THE LIFE OF PI is one of two of the most unusual books I've ever come across. The other was McCrae's KATZENJAMMER. (A third was ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by Sedaris, though that book is quite funny as well). LIFE OF PI is told by the central character, Pi, whose real name Piscene (pool) has been distorted in childhood to Pissing, assumes a name that measures the diameter of a circle, the symbol of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Pi tells two stories of being lost at sea--one story of a miraculous survival for 277 days of a boy on a boat with a Bengal tiger and another story of cannibalism and murder on that same boat whose occupants are Pi, a cook, Pi's mother, and a Taiwanese sailor. Pi says, "So tell me . . .which is the better story? And so it goes with God." Life of Pi concludes with the investigators for the shipwreck's cause choosing the first story in which the caged animals somehow all escaped from their cages as the ship Tsimtsum sank suddenly to the bottom of the Pacific as the more believable, but is the reader to do so? Before choosing to believe the first story, Mr. Chiba, one of the investigators, makes associations between the hyena in the first story and the cook in the second; he sees the zebra in the first as the Taiwanese sailor in the second. The orangutan in the first was Pi's mother in the second, and the tiger Richard Parker from the first is Pi in the second. Then Mr. Chiba asks, "What about the island? Who are the meerkats? What about the teeth? I don't know. I am not inside this boy's head." Must also recommend KATZENJAMMER by McCrae and the novel BARK OF THE DOGWOOD for two other great reads.


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