Wednesday, April 11, 2007


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.


Ruth said...

I read this at the recommendation of a friend last year. It is very thought provoking and a creatively crafted story.

Anonymous said...

Hi Donna - hope you are feeling better now -- heard you had a cold. I have not read this book but will try to find it - although I spend less and less time reading books and more time reading blogs now. Your family seems to be very literary and have good blogs. I now have to read your brothers blog also!!

Cathy said...

OK, Donna. You keep thinking and let me know your final judgment as to the ending. With my advancing years, I find I have a diminished ability to do 'heavy'. I know I'm missing some fine literature and movies :0(

LauraHinNJ said...

I've nearly bought this book quite a few times. Will have to finally do so now.

Mary said...

Oh, boy. I'm curious and am already anticipating the outcome. I'm so drawn to human/animal stories. Amazon, here I come!

Thanks, Donna. I know you'll recommend the best.

KGMom said...

To all--see, this is the scary part--I recommend a book, and you take my advice. What if you don't like it? Help.
For me, as I continue to ponder the meaning of the book, I think The Life of Pi poses the question--what does it take to survive when all the odds seem to be against you.
Ruth--I note you say you read it, and that it was thought provoking and creatively crafted, but not if you liked it.
Ocean--I am feeling better, though I have an awful hacking cough--and I fly to Louisville tomorrow for a meeting!
Cathy--I agree that some things are just too heavy!
Laura and Mary--I hope you like the book. . .or you'll never take my advice again.

dmmgmfm said...

I think I'll read it too. But I might wait until I'm back in Montana. My brain isn't capable of handling much right now. :)

Pam said...

My family is good enough to keep me supplied with books to read, I will put this on my book list. You've got me interested.
Hope that cough eases for you!

Ruth said...

You are right. I wasn't sure if I liked it at first. Then I re-read it and understood and enjoyed it much more. Sometimes I start to read a book in the evening when I am too tired to engage my brain. A good book requires the reader to be challenged, and this is a good book!

Susan Gets Native said...

I read that book a few years ago, and I have re-read it four times since. It's haunting, and raw, and creepy at times. I loved it.
I think the ending was happy, sort of. A different person came off the boat than the one who climbed in, that's all.
And Richard Parker was both the antagonist and the protagonist, wasn't he? I was cheering for Pi to survive, and at the same time, Richard Parker, too!

Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting..I'll have to look for it in the library. Thanks.