Last night I stayed up a bit late to finish reading The Life of Pi. This book has absolutely consumed me and I want to write a bit about it before the spell wears off. The premise of the book is unique: can an Indian boy and a full grown Bengal tiger co-exist on a lifeboat together? The back story, to get the two on the lifeboat, tells about the life of Piscine Patel, who lives in Pondicherry, India, and whose father runs a zoo. In the course of time, Pi's father decides that the family should emigrate to Canada.
So some of the zoo animals are sold, and the rest are crated up and loaded on to a Japanese freighter that Pi and his family--his father, mother and brother--are all sailing on across the Pacific. Along the way, the freighter meets with a mishap and sinks quickly. Pi only has time to leap into a lifeboat. The tiger, who has somehow gotten free from his crate, swims to the lifeboat and climbs aboard. At the outset, there are several other animals on the boat, but they meet their untimely ends. I will not tell you more of the plot. Just read the book.
What the novel explores is the nature of reality, the possibilites of humans and animals co-existing, the place of animals in our lives, the nature of religion. Whew--all that while telling a terrific tale of heart-stopping survival. The story has a happy ending, I think. I am still thinking.
And I think I will be thinking for a long time about this book.