We Have Moved!

We have moved our blog to the new CHB website! Check us out over there to find our latest stories and reviews!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi is the story of a boy trapped on a life boat with a Bengal tiger, but of course (as with every simple summary) there is so much more than that. Pi is about religion, storytelling, and understanding oneself. The highest compliment I can pay this novel is that it reminded me of Slaughterhouse Five. In the way that the earlier novel is about WWII and aliens, Life of Pi is about life and tigers, with all the same leanings toward PTSD.

The novel begins in India, where we learn that Pi Patel is a Hindu, a Christian, and a Muslim. Basically, Pi is a searcher finding meaning where he needs it. The novel is so chock full of symbolism that immediately upon finishing it I wished to go back to the beginning in order to see what would be revealed. Pi's religious leanings and pliant character detailed in the beginning of the story will color the rest of the novel. Once the inevitable shipwreck occurs and he is alone with the animals on the raft it is his adaptable nature that saves him.

Life of Pi is ostensibly a novel that can make someone believe in God. We are introduced to that concept of the story's function in the beginning. But it is not a God that can be named or found easily. Mantel and his characters are interested in a God that is beyond tradition. The young writer transcribing Pi's tale finds God through story, Pi himself found God through curiosity, and the reader is expected to encounter God through the novel in any way they choose – everything is left open to interpretation. With that, I feel it is important to note that Life of Pi is not a religious novel nor even a spiritual one. The idea of God to Mantel seems, to me at least, to be whatever you want it to be. God is what is holy to you, if that is a God of a religious nature then so be it but if it is not then Mantel allows for that as well. This openness is the beauty of Life of Pi.

When I wrote about The Things They Carried, one of the big ideas I was interested in was O'Brien's distinction between story truth and happening truth. Well, Yann Martel took that idea and threw a tiger at it. And it was awesome. I have never read a book quite like Life of Pi and I doubt I will ever read another. Martel works a sort of literary magic with this novel transforming not only the novel but life itself from everything it is to everything it can be.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...