Some of you may have heard of the name ‘Life of Pi’ while many of you may have not. The movie is about to come out in November (2012), so it’s likely that you would be hearing more of it in the forthcoming days. ‘Li of Pi’ is a novel penned by a lesser known author (now more than just a lesser known author) Yann Martel, who picked up the coveted Booker Prize for this book.
I hadn’t heard of this book till a few weeks back. But after I did, I couldn’t stop myself from buying it. It is the storyline of the novel which attracted me. Here is the basic premise I’ll present to you:
“’Life of Pi’ is the story of a 16-year old boy called Pi who finds himself in the middle of Pacific Ocean (after a ship-wreck) in a lifeboat which also houses an adult Bengal tiger. Can the boy live to tell his tale? Can he survive the salty waters, the scarcity of food, the climate, the sea, the desolation and the ferocious tiger? He will, and not for one day or one week or one month, but for 227 days. The question is ‘how’.”
‘Life of Pi’ is the tale of hope in the backdrop of hopelessness, it is the story of courage amidst desolation, and it is the saga of divine faith amidst utter despair. The story is also inspiring, if one can say that even though you are unlikely to get into a scenario where you will have to share a boat with a killer tiger. It is also a story which will, as the prologue claims ‘make you believe in God’.
Pi (the story behind his name is quite interesting as well, as you would learn once you pick the book) is a 16-year old South Indian boy whose father runs a zoo in Pondicherry. When the family decides to sell the zoo and move to Canada, Pi braces himself for a change in his quiet lifestyle. But, in just a few hours, his life turns topsy-turvy when the ship sinks and he is the lone human survivor.
A lifeboat is where he finds shelter as the callous sea devours his family in that fateful stormy night. The morning dawns bright & sunny bringing with it incalculable anguish and agony. But Pi realizes that he has survived and now he needs to survive further (until some help is sent). Inside the boat, there is the tiger; out in the waters, the sharks are waiting! How will he survive the hunger, thirst, starvation, the tiger, the sharks and the sense of extreme loneliness? And then, it hits him! Only one person can help him stay alive! And it’s the tiger! (How’s that, I am not going to tell you!)
‘Life of Pi’ is extremely gripping. I remember one day I just went on reading till 4.30 am before finally chiding at myself and shutting the book to go to sleep. You just want to read on and on and on just to know what will happen the next day and the day after and the day after!
The first half of the novel traces the pre-shipwreck life of Pi and is filled with various interesting anecdotes and funny incidents. The author has masterfully laced the story with humor and has also taken a subtle dig at religious bigotry (though without being didactic or preachy). Pi’s innocence is touching as he secretly follows Hinduism, Islam and Christianity without anyone’s knowledge. He believes in God and not in religion. And it is this belief which will help him during those days when he would be homeless, foodless, humanless and roofless with only the sharks, tiger and the limitless sea for company.
This is a book which is a must-read for adults, youths and even the kids. I thoroughly recommend to all my readers, except one (who will get it directly from me), that you purchase this book or borrow it from a library or from a nerdy bookworm (he is bound to have one copy). And yes, I have my copy, I’m a nerdy bookworm too.