Saturday, February 25, 2012

#65 New Authors: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I must give a shout out to my book club members for clueing me into the fact that this book is completely fiction before I made a fool of myself writing a blog about it! Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

I thought it was a work of non-fiction. This may have, in part, been because of the author's note at the beginning of the book in which he makes it sound like he interviewed the actual man whose story this was. And what an incredible story. Close to 300 days on a raft, floating across the Pacific Ocean, in the company of *spoiler alert (but not really since you can see the color)* a tiger.

The beginning of the book is somewhat about religion. The major similarities between Christianity, Hinduism and Islam and how Pi managed to be a dedicated follower of all three. The conflict came, not from the belief systems of the religions, but from the men who Pi followed as they all demanded that he worship only one way. Fortunately Pi did not heed their words.

In the story he is the sole survivor of a sunken ship. Is it his phenomenal devotion to God through three religions that accounts for this blessing? Can it truly be considered a blessing when he is starved, his faith is tested, his vegetarianism lost to barbarism, and all that he holds dear taken away in one fell swoop? These are some of the questions I found myself asking as I read the book.

But mostly I just was enthralled by the story. The fantastic writing. The engaging characters. The horror and the hope. Pi's descent from dedicated vegetarian with a deep and abiding reverence for all life to a callous butcher of sea turtles so that he could drink their blood, eat their flesh and throw the carcass to the waiting tiger. I occasionally found myself shuddering with disgust and thinking 'I would never do that.' And then suddenly I would come back to myself and remember that I have never been floating on a raft for 277 days without food or water to hand. There is no room for judgment here. Even more inspiring is Pi's empathy, the humanity that he holds onto in this awful and barbarous situation that would strip lesser souls of their ability to be civilized.

It's a great book. One of the best I've read this year in fact. Whether fiction or non-fiction.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I loved that book, too! Probably one of the best I've read, ever.