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Saturday, May 31, 2008


Now that is the word, that is the word that describes your feeling when you have read a book that makes you forget time, date, sleep, bath and even a days meal . The book was Life of Pi, the author was Yann Martel and the gifted reader was me. Now it has been a long time since i finished any book. I would get a book, butcher it through the middle, and then life would come calling. The book will go back safe and sleep the shelves. I have a lot of unfinished business with Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie. When I first got this book "life of pi" if was very awry of getting it through, i started it on this journey some weeks back but coming back to Chennai and going through some difficult times it remained shelved. It was yesterday I felt my mood was too somber and i needed to read something to get recharged. I took out from the cluster, and started it again from scratch. For the past two days this guy Yann Martel had cast some mystic spell on me and caught me with his magical wand, i was physically in a dusty room accompanied with an odd number of foul smelling men but in an other sub-conscious level i was living in a boat castaway in the pacific ocean accompanied by a 16 year old Indian boy and a 250 pound royal bengal tiger. Before we get into the book, lemme tell you about my wish. A wish to read all the Booker-prize winning novel within my lifetime and I am not even quarter-way through (6 of 40!!) and i would definitely say that Life of pi is one of the best and importantly the most different of the lot.

The story is simple. To put it in a single line it is the ordeal faced by a teen aged Indian boy who is castaway on a lifeboat with a huge tiger, and to put it in a book it is Life of Pi. Here is the brief. Piscine molitor patel or Pi patel is a young Indian boy from Pondicherry, lives with a happy family and they run a zoo. He is secular, when i mean secular he sporting a cross goes to a temple and prays to Allah, he is always in search of the real essence of god. But In search of better fortune the family plans to shift to Canada with their bunch of wild animals. And then trouble happens, there happens a shipwreck and the sole survivor is the orphaned Pi patel. Not for long, he soon finds a Huge, beastly and carnivorous Bengal tiger accompanying him in the life boat and together they start on the journey for survival. How does he manage to stay alive if not from the dangerous sea but from the man-eater that he has got on board?, How will he escape from the claws of death and those of the wild-tiger, in short how does he survive the extreme travail for 224 days? Read the book. maybe i sounded a bit unliterature-ish in briefing the story, but yann martel has done more than just writing a novel. He has written a survivors saga filled with despair, hope, pain, belief and not just those. That is the difference between a Booker-prize winning author and a typical bestseller. He not only tells the brave story of a young kid but interlaced with it he speaks about religion, culture, animal zoology, human zeal, survival instincts and ocean science. The novel acts in different levels, for a plain read it is just a thriller involving the confront of a kid and a tiger but a deep read might tell you its not just that, it is an intriguing travel into human psyche and its understanding of love, hope, religion, family, and the most of all the belief in god. Magical in every true sense. It is such books that raise the bar of tastes and preferences and I am happy that I got a chance!

I was able to instantly connect with the boy, he resembles any 16 year old Dark-skinned-South-Indian male and it was just six years before i was in those magical numbers. He speaks Tamil at times, speaks about Madurai- my home town,has a lust for the South-Indian shambar, the idli and the masala dosai just as me. He has a beautiful family with a mom, dad, and a energetic elder brother just like mine. So i loved being him throughout. Love you Pi Patel!. Try reading it, I highly recommend it to any literate. I also got to say about the other book which i read some years back, Thaneer desam(Water Kingdom) written by Vairamuthu, oh man.. that still remains one of my personal favorites. It has nearly the same plot, it was the story of four men and a woman stranded on a damaged fishing boat in the middle of Bay-of-Bengal, and their ordeal for survival. Written in a poetic narrative, it was one of the masterpieces of modern tamil writing. Try reading it, i highly recommend it to any Tamil-literate.

And guys there is this huge-buzz around Chetan bhagats new book "3 mistakes of my life". I gotta read it sometime. But i really don’t understand the hype behind. 5. someone was really good even though it lacked depth. One night @ was total crap, i felt really bad wasting time on it. Hope the third is at least a good read, I really don’t expect a masterpiece out of bhagat. Its really sad that a guy like bhagat is our choice for a bestseller, if some outsider reads him he would get very wrong signals about Indian talent and also the literary preferences of Indian people. We have never given the chance for Vikram Seth or Salman Rushdie to be on the bestseller list. But when someone writes a book which is very similar to a bollywood movie loaded with masala, we celebrate him and bestow him with high honors, even worse reading bhagat has become an attitude statement for many, and many have only read bhagat for their entire life. I don’t have any vengeance against him, he writes what he is good at, and it is really not that bad. He is welcome to write, lets still read him, but let’s make our hands wider to embrace more, more of Martel, more of Hosseini, and more of those guys who write real stuff. As now Martel has again brought me back to form i wish i could read more on the coming days, I am desperate to get lost into the web of words. Choices are aplenty.Your suggestions are welcome.

Life of Pi


Revathi said...

Life of Pi is one of my FAVORITE books. Booker prize winning novels have never charmed me but thsi one just won my heart!! bloody brilliant book!!
well written review!!!

Sridhar V said...

I finished "3 Mistakes of Life" and its not a great book, as u expected. This book is nowhere near 5.someone. It has all the commercial ingredients that a Bollywood movie has. It has vengeance, sex, love, cricket, religious clashes between Hindu's and Muslims, the F-word making its appearance atleast 10 times on a single page. I'm not a great critic, to be honest, but still, its not a great book at all by any means.

Vignesh.r(edux) said...

booker winning novels..each one is of some kind... not that we would like everything.. inheritance of loss dint impress me..but i crave for the variety it offers!!

Hey watchout for Pi's movie version it comes sometime in 09..


thanks for warning me da!! i think Bhagat will soon become the Karan Johar of indian writing space..!!!

மின்ன‌ல் said...

after reading ur review i cant wait to get the book and read...i m too fan of vairamuthu...
about chetan B...U R right about his one was good..some writers like arundhathi roy when they write semiautobiographical stuff write well...after that one novel they seem to run out of also chetan bhagat

Vignesh.r(edux) said...


I havent read much of roy but have to say god of small things was BRILLIANT!!...

Ya in a way 5.smeone was good... it mirrored campus life.. but i think it gained too much attention and eventuallt that has made bhagat suffer!!

Do read Life of Pi...a simple yet magnificent read!

Milinta said...

Hey first time here! And i'm sure i'm gonna spend the entire weekend reading thru the rest of ur posts :-)
I absolutely adore Pi Patel man!!! And we have somewhat similar taste in books i think... God of small things is another book that stayed with me for long... I'm reading Rushdie right now (The Satanic Verses). The great thing abt these prize winning writers is that they think so very differently and let the readers imagine bits and pieces and get intelligent instead of just spoon feeding the entire plot word by word. Give Shashi Tharoor a try. His 'The Great Indian Novel' was a brilliant book.
And the likes of Chetan Bhagat aren't to be taken too seriously. Meant to be read and forgotten.
Ok if i don't stop now i never will. Once again, a great place you have here!!

Milinta said...

Oh and i forgot! i loved thanneer dhesam too... Brilliant brilliant... but Karuvaachi Kaaviyam pips Thanneer Dhesam by an inch. Sigh! how i envy such ppl who write so beautifully!

Vignesh.r(edux) said...


//great place you have here!!
Thanks for that :)

Hey god of small thinks was "out of this world", the way in which she had sliced up the novel was barilliant. It was like reading a dream, mukkiyama the philosohies that are hidden in the words...Marvelous piece of art!

Rushidie is one of a kind,beware his writing is so dense getting lost is a probability!!:)

And i personally think the ranking goes like this
1)Kallikattu ithikasam
2)Karuvvatchi kaaviyam
3)thaneer desam
If u had not tried 1) read it now, it haunted me for days!!

Many thanks for visiting...:))

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