Pi Patel is an unusual boy. The son of a zookeeper, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior, a fervent love of stories, and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes. The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them the truth. After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional — but is it more true?
Life of Pi is at once a realistic, rousing adventure and a meta-tale of survival that explores the redemptive power of storytelling and the transformative nature of fiction. It’s a story, as one character puts it, to make you believe in God.
Yann Martel was born in Spain in 1963 of Canadian parents. “Life of Pi” won the 2002 Man Booker Prize and has been translated into more than forty languages. A #1 “New York Times” bestseller, it spent eighty-seven weeks on the list and was adapted to the screen by Ang Lee. He is also the author of the novels “Beatrice and Virgil” and “Self,” the collection of stories “The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios,” and a collection of letters to the prime minister of Canada, “101 Letters to a Prime Minister.” He lives in Saskatchewan, Canada.