Sunday, July 25, 2010

Review: Life of Pi


I finally finished reading Life of Pi, an incredible book that somehow COMPLETELY escaped my notice until recently when a friend told me about it. It's one of those books that just suck you in, and bombard you with imagery, emotions, and messages that make you wish your brain had a higher processing power so you can take it all in.
Or maybe it's just me, and I have a slow brain. I don't know.

The story goes like this: Piscine Molitor Patel starts his life story with a bit of background information - born in Pondicherry, calls himself 'Pi' because 'Piscine' is a French word that sounds like 'Pissing', the son of zoo owner, discovered religion at the age of 14 (he discovered Christianity and Islam, and practiced both in addition to his original religion of Hinduism), was supposed to emigrate to Canada with his family. On the ship, tragedy struck, and he ended up on a lifeboat ALONE with a bunch of animals, most notably a 450-pound Royal Bengal Tiger. Now, I don't know about you, but I definitely would not want to be anywhere near a tiger, especially if there are no solid steel bars between the both of us.
I don't want to give too much away, but it took Pi 227 days of aimlessly drifting to reach Mexico (he tells us this right at the beginning, so we don't have to suffer the agony of wondering if he's going to get eaten by the tiger), during which time he acted as zookeeper to the incongruously-named tiger, Richard Parker. A skinny little boy, it took all his mental, physical and spiritual strength to survive. 
A vegetarian, he became an expert butcher.
A devoted Hindu, Christian and Muslim, his faith was continually tested but he persevered, managing to perform holy rites.
Someone who used to get picked on by his older brother, he summoned the balls to act as alpha male on that boat (the other male being a FRICKIN BENGAL TIGER).
It is the narration of an amazing journey, not just in terms of physical distance as travelled by this boy in a lifeboat, but also in terms of life.
Reading it, I was continually amazed at man's capacity for adaptation and change, and what humans will resort to in times of intense need and desperation.
What makes me really go 'wow!' is the fact that for the most part of the book, there is only one human character. It is not a book to throw you off by introducing a whole host of characters in the hopes that you will not notice the deficiencies of the protagonist. In this book, there is one boy and one tiger, on a sea. There is nowhere to hide, and in this case, no NEED to hide.

Is it any wonder that it won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2002? I think not.

2 comments:

Liz ^^, said...

I've heard about this book a really long time ago, long ago that I wasn't interested in reading anything other than Enid Blyton at the time >.<

But I've wanted to read it though ! Do you have the book? Can I borrow? :D

May Lee said...

hahaha i never heard of it! so sad. yesh i do have the book! will bring it over, but jaga baik baik k.. it's a pressie! =D