Life of Pi

Life of Pi

Believe the author when he says this is a tall tale. It is but Yann Martel’s wonderful Mann Booker prizewinning book is a must read, whether you have seen the movie or not.

Our hero, Piscine Molitor or Pi Patel, is a 16-year-old  boy who survives 227 days on a lifeboat shared with a Bengal tiger. Adrift on the Pacific Ocean, there seems little likelihood that either has a chance.

Pi and his zookeeper family are emigrating from India to Canada when the ship sinks, leaving him in dangerously close quarters with the seasick tiger, Richard Parker. Pi’s survival spirit knows no bounds and the tall tale’s magic makes the reader suspend disbelief.

Life of Pi is, indeed,  a fine example of magical realism but it is also a great adventure story. The book’s early part tells of Pi's childhood in the Pondicherry Zoo and his conversion to not one religion but three: Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Here Martel sets the scene, with nuggets on animal behaviour and social hierarchy. Later, Pi must live this to become the alpha male and fend off his fellow passenger, the tiger, who will rely on the boy for food and water.

Pi’s faith, and corresponding belief that coexistence with a tiger is conceivable, are delicately balanced with his love of science, thanks to his two early mentors, and the story is one that you really want to believe.  With all the ghostly visitors and strange islands, just what is real, what halucination? Well, that’s for you to decide.

Believe also if you will that the lifeboat washes ashore in Mexico, Pi surviving and the tiger disappearing off into the jungle. The officials investigating the sinking of the ship are hardly likely to believe Pi, so why not give them a different story to keep them happy.  There is much twisting of reality.  But me?  I believe in the tiger…….

Patricia McLoughlin


To see if you agree with Patricia's assessment of the book being better than the film, Women Talking would like to offer a copy of the book and DVD of Life of Pi to one lucky reader.

For your chance to win simply answer the following question:

What is the name of the tiger in Life of Pi?

Send your answers to ensuring you place the words Life of Pi in the subject header, also including your unique Women Talking username with the submission.

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