Pi Patel travels with his family from India to Canada, on a cargo boat filled with zoo animals. When the boat sinks, Pi is stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger for a castaway companion.
When I started this and the author spent a page and a half talking about three toed sloths, I thought this was going to be a long haul of a book. To my immense surprise, the pacing picked up and I zoomed through it.
What helped is the voice of PI. He’s warm, very smart, witty, loves wordplay and puns, and has an unending love of life he voices through his polytheism and zoology. His relationship to Richard Parker, the tiger he spends seven months on a boat with, is full of clever observation and humour.
Then something interesting happens almost at the end. Pi tells some insurance people what might have happened on the boat, and suddenly…you’re left wondering. You’re left to examine the story anew. Pi even asks which version of the story you prefer, and leaves it up to you as reader to decide. It’s an interesting twist, but did the book need it? I didn’t think so.
This is how all literature should be. It’s accessible, it’s smart, it’s dark and it’s humorous, and works on as many levels as you want it to. Great book.