Piscine Molitor Patel, Pi for short, is a thoughtful and curious teenager growing up in Pondicherry, India. His father runs the local zoo, and Pi enjoys a secure and edifying home life with his parents and older brother, Ravi. Pi discovers the joy of spirituality, and has no problem identifying with three major religions: Christianity; Islam; and, his native Hindu, garnering comfort from all three.
Pi and his family leave India, with some of their animals, to emigrate to Canada; however, their ship capsizes and sinks quickly, leaving Pi, an injured zebra, a hyena, an orangutan named Orange Juice and a tiger named Richard Parker the sole survivors and co-inhabitants of a lifeboat. Nature takes its course and soon only Pi and Richard Parker are remaining. Pi comes to realize that the survival of Richard Parker is vital to his survival, and plans accordingly, ensuring that Richard Parker is well fed and watered. Pi and Richard undertake a long, arduous, often humourous journey on the seas, eventually landing on a seeming island paradise, until Pi realizes the island is carnivorous, and he and Richard Parker are off once again. Near death, the two finally land on the coast of Mexico, where Richard Parker disappears into the jungle and Pi is rescued and taken to a hospital.
While at the hospital, Pi is questioned by two Japanese officials in regards to the sinking of the ship, who do not believe his fantastical story. After much grilling, Pi tells the officials a second, less fanciful story. Which one do they believe? Which one will you believe? What do the two stories reflect about Pi's world view? How is Pi not only able to survive 227 days, but also keep a tiger alive as well?
This book is most unusual - I cannot seem to stop thinking about it and pondering its meanings. I realize I'm a little late reading it - it was published in 2002, but better late than never! This is a beautifully written and mesmerizing book and I recommend it to anyone with a lively imagination or someone who needs more imagination in their life (like me!) Enjoy!