Written by Pat Wootton, PromptProofing.com
First published over 10 years ago, this novel was widely acclaimed and won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2002.
First published over 10 years ago, this novel was widely acclaimed and won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2002. On the surface it is a fantasy adventure tale of a young man surviving more than seven months adrift in the Pacific, in the company of a 450-pound Bengal tiger.
To be fair, I should confess that I am not generally a big fan of 'castaway' novels; despite this, I found Life of Pi so intriguing that I read it one sitting, even though I was guilty of skimming a little over some of Pi's adventures while adrift in the ocean. Without wishing to give away too much to those who have not yet encountered this well-crafted story, the third part of this novel will leave the reader with many unanswered - and unanswerable - questions, a situation that I find, in almost equal parts, both thought provoking and irritating. I like all my ends neatly tied up and this book certainly does not do that; however I am well aware that this is a fault of mine, not of the novel! The ending of the novel is indeed thought provoking, and will challenge the reader's perspective.
The character of Pi, the main protagonist, is well developed during the first part of the book, which deals with his youth in India, growing up as the younger son of a zookeeper. Pi is a remarkable boy, highly intelligent with a strong understanding of animal psychology and a fascination for religion, adopting Hinduism, Christianity and Islam with equal enthusiasm. I personally found the first part the most satisfying, though I am well aware that some critics have considered this to be merely an overlong introduction to the main part of the story, namely Pi's adventures in the lifeboat.
The third and final part of the book will definitely leave readers thinking; it is worth remembering here that Pi prefers an entertaining story to what he refers to as "dry, yeastless factuality" and his appreciation of religion involves a strong link to ancient stories. If storytelling is the ultimate goal then Life of Pi certainly achieves this. As to the truth - only the reader can decide.
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Pat Wootton is originally from England and is a former high school English teacher. Having spent many years in the Caribbean, where she raised her family, she now lives in Vancouver, BC. In addition, she has taught English as a Second Language (ESL) for several years after earning a diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of British Columbia. She now owns and runs Prompt Proofing, a copy editing and writing service that caters to both individuals and businesses.