Life of Pi


352 pages
ISBN 0-676-97376-0
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Norman P. Goldman

Norman P. Goldman is a retired Civil Law Notaire (Notary) who also
specializes in Montreal history and culture.


Life of Pi, winner of the 2002 Booker Prize, recounts the story of a
young Indian boy. It begins with Pi’s childhood in Pondicherry, India,
where he learns a great deal about zoos and animal behavior (his father
is a zookeeper). When the Hindu-born Pi reaches his adolescent years, he
experiments with Christianity and goes on to embrace Islam. He just
can’t figure how to find God, and perhaps himself.

Pi’s father, fed up with the politics of Mrs. Gandhi, decides to
remove his family from India. On June 21, 1977, 16-year-old Pi, together
with his father, mother, and older brother as well as several animals
from their zoo, begin the long journey to Canada on the Japanese cargo
ship Tsimtsumi. Unfortunately, the ship sinks somewhere in the Pacific
Ocean. Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, a zebra, a
hyena, and an orangutan. Much clever—and challenging—philosophizing

So, how does Pi manage to survive 124 days at sea with four incredibly
dangerous animals? Martel puts it all into perspective when Pi explains
to the man who is investigating the ship’s sinking: “Isn’t telling
about something—using words, English or Japanese—already something
of an invention? Isn’t just looking upon this world already something
of an invention? The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we
understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to
it, no? Doesn’t that make life a story?”


Martel, Yann., “Life of Pi,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 13, 2024,