Life of Pi, written by Yann Martel, was published in the year 2001. This is the 2012 edition of the book. The book was initially rejected by five different London publishers, but once published successfully, was well-received and went on to win the Man Booker prize. The story is about a boy of 16, Piscine Patel, who adopts the nickname Pi , after growing tired of being called Pissing Patel . The book is set in Pondicherry, a former French colony in India, and is divided into three parts. The first part revolves around Pi s life and the time that he spends in his father s zoo, understanding the psychology of the animals there. In the second part, Pi finds himself stranded at sea for 227 days on a small lifeboat, along with a Bengal tiger called Richard Parker, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and a hungry hyena. The book deals with human beings, their belief systems, and God in a broader perspective. In the third part, when finally the lifeboat reaches the Mexican coast, the tiger runs away, and the authorities find the boy s story too fantastical. The real story then comes out, startling the officials and the readers alike.
From The New Yorker
An impassioned defense of zoos, a death-defying trans-Pacific sea adventure à la "Kon-Tiki," and a hilarious shaggy-dog story starring a four-hundred-and-fifty-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker: this audacious novel manages to be all of these as it tells the improbable survivor's tale of Pi Patel, a young Indian fellow named for a swimming pool (his full first name is Piscine) who endures seven months in a lifeboat with only a hungry, outsized feline for company. This breezily aphoristic, unapologetically twee saga of man and cat is a convincing hands-on, how-to guide for dealing with what Pi calls, with typically understated brio, "major lifeboat pests."
Copyright © 2005
The New Yorker
Pi Patel, a young man from India, tells how he was shipwrecked and stranded in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger for 227 days. This outlandish story is only the core of a deceptively complex three-part novel about, ultimately, memory as a narrative and about how we choose truths. Unlike other authors who use shifting chronologies and unreliable narrators, Martel frequently achieves something deeper than technical gimmickry. Pi, regardless of what actually happened to him, earns our trust as a narrator and a character, and makes good, in his way, on the promise in the last sentence of part one--that is, just before the tiger saga--"This story has a happy ending." If Martel's strange, touching novel seems a fable without quite a moral, or a parable without quite a metaphor, it still succeeds on its own terms. Oh, the promise in the entertaining "Author's Note" that this is a "story that will make you believe in God" is perhaps excessive, but there is much in it that verifies Martel's talent and humanist vision.
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“Those who would believe that the art of fiction is moribund – let them read Yann Martel with astonishment, delight and gratitude.” Alberto Manguel
“The whole fantastic voyage carries hints of ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ and the magic realism of Amado and Marquez and the absurdity of Beckett… Yann Martel does a beautiful job.” Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“Martel writes like a more compassionate Paul Auster.” Times Literary Supplement
“Martel finds dazzling ways of expressing the hitherto unexpressed.” Mail on Sunday
“Reminiscent of Italo Calvino.” Independent on Sunday
Walker/Canongate is delighted to present a young adult edition of the Booker-prize winning modern classic, Life of Pi.
From the Back Cover
After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, one solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The crew of the surviving vessel consists of a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan, a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger and Pi – a 16-year-old Indian boy. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary pieces of literary fiction of recent years.
About the Author
Yann Martel was born in Spain but currently lives in Montreal. He is the highly acclaimed author of ‘Self’, a novel, and of the story collection ‘The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios’. Life of Pi is his third book and was shortlisted for both the Governor General Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
My suffering left me sad and gloomy.
Academic study and the steady, mindful practice of religion slowly brought me back to life. I have remained a faithful Hindu, Christian and Muslim. I decided to stay in Toronto. After one year of high school, I attended the University of Toronto and took a double-major Bachelor’s degree. My majors were religious studies and zoology. My fourth-year thesis for religious studies concerned certain aspects of the cosmogony theory of Isaac Luria, the great sixteenth-century Kabbalist from Safed. My zoology thesis was a functional analysis of the thyroid gland of the three-toed sloth. I chose the sloth because its demeanour — calm, quiet and introspective — did something to soothe my shattered self.
There are two-toed sloths and there are three-toed sloths, the case being determined by the forepaws of the animals, since all sloths have three claws on their hind paws. I had the great luck one summer of studying the three-toed sloth in situ in the equatorial jungles of Brazil. It is a highly intriguing creature. Its only real habit is indolence. It sleeps or rests on average twenty hours a day. Our team tested the sleep habits of five wild three-toed sloths by placing on their heads, in the early evening after they had fallen asleep, bright red plastic dishes filled with water. We found them still in place late the next morning, the water of the dishes swarming with insects. The sloth is at its busiest at sunset, using the word busy here in a most relaxed sense. It moves along the bough of a tree in its characteristic upside-down position at the speed of roughly 400 metres an hour. On the ground, it crawls to its next tree at the rate of 250 metres an hour, when motivated, which is 440 times slower than a motivated cheetah. Unmotivated, it covers four to five metres in an hour.
The three-toed sloth is not well informed about the outside world. On a scale of 2 to 10, where 2 represents unusual dullness and 10 extreme acuity, Beebe (1926) gave the sloth’s senses of taste, touch, sight and hearing a rating of 2, and its sense of smell a rating of 3. If you come upon a sleeping three-toed sloth in the wild, two or three nudges should suffice to awaken it; it will then look sleepily in every direction but yours. Why it should look about is uncertain since the sloth sees everything in a Magoo-like blur. As for hearing, the sloth is not so much deaf as uninterested in sound. Beebe reported that firing guns next to sleeping or feeding sloths elicited little reaction. And the sloth’s slightly better sense of smell should not be overestimated. They are said to be able to sniff and avoid decayed branches, but Bullock (1968) reported that sloths fall to the ground clinging to decayed branches “often”.
How does it survive, you might ask.
Precisely by being so slow. Sleepiness and slothfulness keep it out of harm’s way, away from the notice of jaguars, ocelots, harpy eagles and anacondas. A sloth’s hairs shelter an algae that is brown during the dry season and green during the wet season, so the animal blends in with the surrounding moss and foliage and looks like a nest of white ants or of squirrels, or like nothing at all but part of a tree.
The three-toed sloth lives a peaceful, vegetarian life in perfect harmony with its environment. “A good-natured smile is forever on its lips,” reported Tirler (1966). I have seen that smile with my own eyes. I am not one given to projecting human traits and emotions onto animals, but many a time during that month in Brazil, looking up at sloths in repose, I felt I was in the presence of upside-down yogis deep in meditation or hermits deep in prayer, wise beings whose intense imaginative lives were beyond the reach of my scientific probing.
Sometimes I got my majors mixed up. A number of my fellow religious-studies students–muddled agnostics who didn’t know which way was up, in the thrall of reason, that fool’s gold for the bright–reminded me of the three-toed sloth; and the three-toed sloth, such a beautiful example of the miracle of life, reminded me of God.
I never had problems with my fellow scientists. Scientists are a friendly, atheistic, hard-working, beer-drinking lot whose minds are preoccupied with sex, chess and baseball when they are not preoccupied with science.
I was a very good student, if I may say so myself. I was tops at St. Michael’s College four years in a row. I got every possible student award from the Department of Zoology. If I got none from the Department of Religious Studies, it is simply because there are no student awards in this department (the rewards of religious study are not in mortal hands, we all know that). I would have received the Governor General’s Academic Medal, the University of Toronto’s highest undergraduate award, of which no small number of illustrious Canadians have been recipients, were it not for a beef-eating pink boy with a neck like a tree trunk and a temperament of unbearable good cheer.
I still smart a little at the slight. When you’ve suffered a great deal in life, each additional pain is both unbearable and trifling. My life is like a memento mori painting from European art: there is always a grinning skull at my side to remind me of the folly of human ambition. I mock this skull. I look at it and I say, “You’ve got the wrong fellow. You may not believe in life, but I don’t believe in death. Move on!” The skull snickers and moves ever closer, but that doesn’t surprise me. The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity–it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud. The pink boy also got the nod from the Rhodes Scholarship committee. I love him and I hope his time at Oxford was a rich experience. If Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, one day favours me bountifully, Oxford is fifth on the list of cities I would like to visit before I pass on, after Mecca, Varanasi, Jerusalem and Paris.
Adrift on the wide Pacific in a 26-foot lifeboat should prove challenge enough, but to survive with a royal Bengal tiger for sole companion stretches belief. Nonetheless, 16-year-old Pi Patel, son of a zookeeper from Pondicherry, India, manages it for 227 days by taming not only the tiger, but his own wild imagination and whipping both into service. Martel uses two narrators for his mad tale: Pi reading his journal and what appears to be an objective neighbor some years later. The neighbor's narrative, read by Alexander Marshall, is brief and wooden, but necessary to contrast with Pi's wildly implausible adventure. Jeff Woodman reads Pi's journal and the bulk of the story. His range is astounding. He is at once the salty French cook, two oddly paired Japanese investigators, a Catholic priest, a Muslim imam, and of course the irrepressible Pi, each with his own distinctive accent. Woodman reads with an almost childlike delicacy and simplicity that lend credibility to the wisdom implicit in this fanciful tale. Both story and reading delight on every level. P.E.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine--
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