I love animal stories. But this book is not just about that. This is a story of adventure, ship wreck, animals, miracles and survival.
Yann Martel titled this Man Booker Prize winning book “Life of Pi”. Normally, I distance myself from books with mathematical concepts and titles. But for this, my love for the animal featured in the cover exceeded my irritation to the word “Pi”. Interestingly, the main characted Piscine Molitor Patel was named after a pool not the equation.
Life of Pi is the story of a teenage Indian boy lost at sea for 227 days with only a dangerous Bengal tiger for a companion. Pi Patel's narration of survival through the use of his wits and sheer determination, grabs you and never lets go. You are fascinated and at the same time doubtful of the outcome. It makes you want to believe the unbelievable.
It was not until the middle of the story that the animals appear as central characters. In the beginning, Pi talks about religion and family and Indian culture. Then he centers on migration, of looking for bigger opportunities and wanting a better future which is a relatable subject for all of us. Then the shipwreck happens, and Pi is found adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, hyena, orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger all fighting for survival.
What touches me though is the religious aspect of the story. Here’s an excerpt:
“Religion will save us” I said. Since I could remember, religions had always been close to my heart.
“Religion?” Mr. Kumar grinned softly. “I don’t believe in religion. Religion is darkness.”
“Darkness?” I was puzzled. I thought darkness is the last thing that religion is. Religion is light. Was he testing me? Was he saying “religion is darkness” the way he sometimes said in class things like “mammals lay eggs” to see if someone would correct him. (“Only platypuses sir”).
I recommend this book for all believers whether you are religious or not. For in every story of a miraculous survival, we cannot help but think that some greater power in this world is cheering for our existence. Happy reading!