Book Review – The life of Pi – Yann Martel

Written by on June 29, 2010 in Book Club

Reviewed by Saaleha Bhamjee – Afrocentric Muslimah

That Life of Pi by Yann Martel won the Man Booker Prize and has sold seven million copies world wide comes as no surprise. Simply put, it is an astonishing tale.
“a story that will make you believe in God,” as the old man says.

Imagine the scenario:

A ship. A cargo ship – The Tsimtsum. And what cargo! A selection of zoo animals making a once in a lifetime trip across the Pacific Ocean, from Pondicherry (former French colony) in India to America. Destined for zoos that had expressed interest in the now homeless animals upon the closure of the Pondicherry zoo.

On the ship, the zookeeper, Mr Santosh Patel, his wife and two sons, Ravi and Piscine along with a selection of cabin crew.
Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean the ship is caught in a storm. And sinks.

Piscine (Pi) finds himself on a lifeboat. The sole human survivor. His only co-survivors – an injured zebra, a hyena, a female orangutan and a 450-pound Royal Bengal Tiger.

A courageous tale that spells out sheer power of the human will to survive against impossible odds. Somewhat brutal at times, gritty, painful to the point of agonizing, but ultimately exultant.

A seven month long ordeal is described in detail. The writing fluid, elegant. A delight to read.


The life of Pi – movie trailer

Excerpt :

As the cartons of survival rations diminished, I reduced my intake till I was following instructions exactly, holding myself to only two biscuits every eight hours. I was continuously hungry. I thought about food obsessively. The less I had to eat, the larger became the portions I dreamed of. My fantasy meals grew to the size of India. A Ganges of dhal soup. Hot chapattis the size of Rajasthan. Bowls of rice as big as Uttar Pradesh. Sambars to flood all of Tamil Nadu. Ice Cream heaped as high as the Himalayas. (pg 211-212)

A word of warning though. If you’re the queasy type and can’t handle blood and gore, you might want to read with discretion. But never give it a miss. A worthwhile read. Thought provoking, inspirational, a triumph!


Interview with Yann Martel


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  1. Nanima says:

    The trailer reminds me of our trip to India. When we saw that tiger eish. was the highlight of the trip.
    check the post out of my trip to India – Chalo India