by Yann Martel (Harcourt 2001)
I read this years ago (possibly twice), probably sometime in the year of publication, and loved it. The movie has just come out, so I read it again to remind myself of the details before I go see it, probably next week. The movie is in 3D. I can’t wait to see how they translate this amazing story to the big screen.
Pi Patel is 16 years old when his family decide to move from southern India to Canada. Since his father was the keeper of the Pondicherry Zoo, they sail on the Tsimtsum with a boatload of zoo animals bound for various zoos in the United States. When the ship sinks, Pi, the only human survivor, finds himself on a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan named Orange Juice, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker (is it mere coincidence that this was the name of the poor cabin boy who was eaten by his shipmates after their yacht Mignonette sank in 1884?) who quickly dispatches the other animals. Pi must find a way to co-exist with the tiger if he is to survive, so he decides to train him, and co-exist they do, for seven months while the lifeboat makes its way across the Pacific Ocean. It’s an astonishing story, mostly credible and always gripping. The reader picks up all kinds of information along the way–about zoos, animals, tigers in particular, surviving at sea, religion… I’ve never read another book quite like this one, that’s for sure.