10 words or less : Incredible. Fun and entertaining. A very moving and symbolic story.
Long version : The Life of Pi by Yann Martel is a wonderful read. It’s the kind of book that will raise the bar on the kind of material you will want to read afterward. It’s a relatively short book, around 300 pages, but it works on so many levels… both as a superficial “look-no-deeper” story and as a very, very symbolic multi-layer opus.
The top-layer story is basically about a shipwrecked boy who is stuck on a lifeboat for 227 days in the Pacific Ocean with a tiger, hyena, zebra, and an orangutan. The pacing is so well structured you will be halfway through the book before you know it.
The Life of Pi won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, the South African Boeke Prize, the Le combat des livres reading competition, CBC Radio’s Canada Reads, and the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. It won all these awards even though it was only the second book from the author at the time.
There’s almost 2,000 reviews for it on Amazon.com at this time, and even a new deluxe illustrated version that I’m going to have to get for the bookshelf. Be careful on Amazon, though. Many people posted the entire story in their review, which ruins the thrill of reading the book for the first time.
Supposedly Ang Lee is going to make a movie about the book for release in 2011. I’m not sure he can pull it off, but I’ll be in line to see it on the big screen.
Five out of five stars.