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Life of Pi

By Yann Martel

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Book review written by Harry Withers (Year 11 2020)

After the Tsimtsum carrying Pi Patel’s family to Canada sinks, leaving Pi the only survivor, he must embark on a dangerous journey of self-realisation and survival confined to a lifeboat at sea. The catch? His only company includes a hyena, orangutan, zebra and a vicious tiger.

The way Yann Martel weaves philosophy into this survival story is masterful. Themes of multiple religious belonging and human condition are sprinkled amongst the treacherous voyage, offering small respite to both the reader and to Pi’s sanity. His beautiful words open our minds to higher level ideas: "Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can." Martel also creates a book that has seemingly not one distinct ending, allowing the reader to imagine the course of events based on their own values. This idea of multiple endings also helps solidify the philosophical ideas in the text, emphasizing that there is not a clear answer to everything.

I have taken away an appreciation for the philosophical commentary that frequently appears in Life of Pi. This includes the meaning of truth that Martel investigates throughout the novel, stating, “If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for?”. His ideas are easy to follow and even if some concepts seem to slip the mind, you can always enjoy the gripping story of survival that Martel creates.

I would recommend that those who want to discover themselves more should read this book. The language used throughout the text is similar to that of our ‘inner voice’, and I believe allows you to question your long-held beliefs and perhaps change those rooted ideals.

Martel, Y. (2001). Life of Pi.

Book review written by Harry Withers (Year 11 2020)

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