Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Review of Life of Pi by Yann Martel

As a wannabe intellectual I consider it inappropriate to just read sf and fantasy all the time – every now and then (theoretically, I alternate between genre and literary, but it doesn't always work out that way) I read something that seems to be well thought of in the more cerebral parts of the literary establishment. A while ago I bought Life of Pi for about £3.97 from Tesco.

And the problem with these kind of books is that, while they have obvious qualities, they're also heavy-going. Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things is a good example: beautifully written but no page-turner.

So I was expecting something similar from Yann Martel's book. And was pleasantly surprised by how engaging it was. So engaging in fact that the quite intense religiosity of the protagonist didn't get in the way of my enjoyment of this book (and, me being a devout atheist (d'you see what I did there?), it often would do.

Life of Pi is constructed with a finely judged blend of anal precision and mystery: for instance, the narrator (the primary narrator – there are two), Pi Patel, goes into some things in great detail, but by the end of the book you become aware of its ambiguous, open-to-interpretation nature. On the face of it the story is simple, but it's worked out with near-flawless logic and Pi's fantastic odyssey is completely believable. And then the conclusion sets the whole thing in a new light.

This is a really entertaining book – it's very funny in places, very touching in others and very well-written throughout.

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