Book Club: Life of Pi

“Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart.”

There weren’t many people at book club, but we still had quite a detailed discussion. This months book was Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and there was an interesting mix of people who had recently read it, read it years ago, and who struggled to get past the first few chapters.

Pi is a young boy who lives in his family’s zoo in India. His upbringing is unusual and idyllic, but everything changes when they decide to relocate to America, travelling on a large shipping vessel along with their animals. After a storm, Pi finds himself alone on a dinghy with several zoo animals, including a tiger named Richard Parker. As the story is told by an adult Pi to a man interviewing him about his life, the reader knows that Pi does infact survive his ordeal, floating across the ocean with a tiger.

We all agreed that it was quite a difficult book to start with, but once the real story of Pi and Richard Parker started, it became quite an easy read. It was difficult to choose a favourite character, as there weren’t really that many characters to choose from, but we didnt dislike Pi in any way. It was also difficult to choose a standout moment – as you can imagine, much of the book focuses on Pi alone on the dinghy. There is one point, however, that stood out, perhaps simply because it was a little different – Pi finds an island, and without giving too much away, unfortunately we all found it to be a standout moment for the wrong reasons.

The ambiguous nature of the ending was the one aspect that divided opinion. Again, without giving too much away, the twist at the end surprised us all in some ways, but we all seemed to make our decision about it pretty quickly before moving on. My own opinion is that the twist is a comment by the author on the nature of people – do we always just want an easy answer, because we are too boring or cant be bothered to think about the more difficult alternative? Or is that just me reading too much into it? There were some who disagreed with me on this, simply thinking it is what it is.

“You might think I lost all hope at that point. I did. And as a result I perked up and felt much better.” 

All in all I suppose the level of discussion we had leads me to say this book is certainly thought provoking, but none of us thought it was outstanding. A story about faith, infinity, survival, and how to keep a tiger from eating you. Three stars.

 

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