Life of Pi worth multiple reads

LIFE OF PI | Ang Lee | 35th Mill Valley Film Festival

Cindy_Maram diginmag, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

LIFE OF PI | Ang Lee | 35th Mill Valley Film Festival

Makenzie Closson, Guest Writer

A good book is hard to come by these days. The feeling of being completely captivated by a novel and having it resonate with you for years after reading it only occurs maybe once within seven books. Life of Pi by Yann Martel wraps enthralling themes, culture study and the oddity of human nature all inside 352 pages. 

Life of Pi follows Piscine “Pi” Patel, an Indian boy who grew up in Pondicherry on his family’s zoo. At a very young age, he was introduced to the world of spirituality and religion, bending the rules on metaphysics and what was considered to be socially accepted. I love the artistic craftsmanship on the way Pi was created. He is so relatable in the ways of curiosity, and how it can always get the best of us. 

Pi and his family get into a shipwreck while traveling to Canada with his father’s zoo animals leaving Pi as the sole survivor alone on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Pi is accompanied by a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. We watch as Pi struggles to keep himself alive while being in company of the brutal reality of human nature and how living organisms have to survive. 

We watch as Pi has to use his own tactics of survival to put everything he once knew behind him in order to survive. It is a classic tale of man versus nature, a study of how humans can turn into the worst versions of themselves in life defying situations. 

The way this novel is written is brilliantly. The reader can truly get a grasp on how Pi is feeling and how his sanity is slowly wearing away. It raises questions on the nature of reality, and how things are perceived and told. It messes with a sense of physical existence and gives insight on faltering religion. What’s even better is that the second or third time reading it, you can still find new things hidden within the story. 

One thing I especially like is the way Yann Martel did intensive research on the cultures used within the story–and even included some religious traditions he himself practices. It continues to spread awareness to the beauty of all religions, and drives the point home that there is never just one way society expects you to worship. 

Life of Pi is fiction that challenges its reader. It is a book with many alternate meanings and interpretations. It reminds me of works like Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and The Da Vinci Code, which are both novels that alter the reality that we are supposed to think is real. It creates space for the reader to take a step back and see things in a way that they have never tried to before. 

Reading Life of Pi is one of the most eye-opening experiences. When life seems hopeless, draining, or meaningless, give this book a read. It might just change your view on everything.