Earlier this year I had a chance encounter about this particular bookI will be attempting to endorse to you. A lovely Thomasina named Sadie Gonzales bumped into me accidentally inside a BookSale outlet while I was browsing the tourists rather than the books. And by the time I got out of the store, I was holding a book about a tiger on one hand, and a Lady Tiger on the other. This really is the year of the tiger.
The name of the book is Life of Pi, I have come across this title for quite a few years then because M. Night Shyamalan, one of my favorite directors, had been attached to adapt it to the big screen. At first I was confused on how to pronounce the title whether it is Life of ‘Pee’ or ‘Pie’ but I later found the latter is correct. It was the main character’s self-Christened name after the 3.14 geometrical factor and his real name was Piscine Molitor Patel (used to be Pissing for short). The book’s synopsis caught my absolute attention labeling it the most absurd plot I’ve ever read. Dahil tamad ako mag-summarize here’s the one written at the back of book.
Pi Patel, a God-loving boy and the son of a zookeeper, has a fervent love of stories and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Chrisitianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family and their zoo animal emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship. Alas, the ship sinks – and Pi finds himself in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and a 450-pound Bengal Tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi. Can Pi and the tiger find their way to land? Can Pi’s fear, knowledge, and cunning keep him alive until they do?
Basic common sense will tell us the boy should be the first to be dispatched in the food chain. However this is a masterpiece created by a master story teller. In Yann Martell’s cunning hands we will be forced to breach that thin gap between fiction and reality. This story is all about faith and its soul-searching power. It touches your faith about God, your faith in the power of will, and at the end of the very last page your faith in reality.
True, it is plausible in real life that a person could survive in the Pacific for months, and in fact it’s impossible for me to make this review without telling you that Pi actually survived. Do not consider this as a spoiler because it’s already a given situation in the early chapters of the book through the recollection of an adult Pi. The big question is how exactly did he survived? Well, that’s for me to keep and you to find out. Life of Pi is available in your favorite bookstores, NBS @ P415, Fullybooked @ 559, BookSale @ P140, and you can borrow my copy for free!
Life of Pi is one of those few books that touches such delicates elements like religion and faith and successfully walks away in a glorious note. Pi is born a Hindu, but just before leaving India he was able to practice Christianity and its message of love, and then added Islam, which he defined as a beautiful religion of brotherhood and devotion. So if he can add Judaism to his faith, his brother Ravi goes on to tease him, “you can go to the temple on Thursday, mosque every Friday, synagogue on Saturdays and church on Sunday. You only need needed to convert to three more religions to be on holiday for the rest of your life.” What a funny perspective about trying out other religions. After getting confronted by his parents and the religions’ men of faith (who made a spectacular debate scene of their own), Pi simply put them all in place by declaring he was just trying to love God.
The story itself was put in collision course with animal behavior and psychology in order to answer the inevitable “how in the heck did Pi survived?” Pi was raised as the son of the zookeeper, giving him a wide knowledge about animals including how to tame them by explicitly presenting one’s dominance as the alpha male. It is the most important and hardest lesson Pi has to learn – to survive. Yann Martell also made a bold and controversial defense of the zoo’s, arguing that animals are creatures of habit and once all their needs are met, they’re content and willing to repeat the same scenario every day.
Although the story claims that this is a story that will make you believe in God, I believe this will somehow hit some nerves in everyone’s faith, on how you interpret and interact with it. Yann Martel surely made an impact to give me faith on the power of fiction and its writers. It’s a thought provoking tale of survival, and an unlikely friendship between a boy and a tiger. It is full of excitement and surprises, smart, funny, sometimes crazy, heck of a joyride across the Pacific. Thanks to Martel for giving us a tale of imagination that really feels real.
Finally, a movie adaptation is being made as of the moment – on 3D. Although this project have been dominantly linked to M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Last Airbender), and even to the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the best Potter film to date) director Alfonso Cuarón, the job goes to Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee .
Ang Lee is not new to tiger business since he’s the one who realmed the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He’ll need all his talents to put up a respectable adaptation because this story is quite unfilmable, well I said that before on Watchmen. So I hope he makes a good job making it and finish it on time for a 2011 release.
By the way Sadie Gonzales is a character on Ilustrado, an acclaimed Asian novel written by our very own Miguel Syjuco.