Quicklet on Yann Martel's Life of Pi

by Zak Ahmed Uddin

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    • About the Book
    • About the Author
    • Synopsis
    • Key Character List
    • Key Terms and Definitions
    • Chapter-By-Chapter Commentary & Summary
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Author Yann Martel conceived of the story Life of Pi (2002) during his extended travels in India, reading castaway stories and survival tales. Life of Pi is a fantastical chronicle of the adventures of a young boy and his animal companions lost at sea.

It has had a tumultuous journey since its arrival in print. The work features a discourse exploring survival, order, danger, chaos and captivity.

Yann Martel was born to French-Canadian parents in Spain.

Before Life of Pi, he wrote two novels that were not well-received.

With the almost instantaneous popularity of Life of Pi, Martel became a lively and outspoken figure and went on to write two more novels of note. According to Martel's talk with the Big Think, "When you have faith in anything, it’s just a disposition to be open and to trust and to move forward that way. And I find a view of life that entertains a transcendental, that engages with the transcendental, makes things wealthy. It also, it makes things wealthier in their significance, and it also, it’s a way that makes suffering more bearable."


Zak Ahmed Uddin is a London-based writer who has written about the arts and fashion for both web and print.


Don't you bully me with your politeness! Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?

Controversy has dogged Martel's career. After freely acknowledging he had based his novel on the premise - described in a review - of Scliar's Max and the Cats, the younger author claimed he had decided against reading the novella itself because he did not want to see a good idea badly executed. Despite accusations of deriding Brazilian literature on the world stage, Martel has been known for his complex views on how colonialism has informed literature. In his follow-up, Beatrice and Virgil, the narrator writes: "Colonialism is a terrible bane for a people upon whom it is imposed, but a blessing for a language. English's drive to exploit the new and the alien, its zeal in robbing words from other languages, its incapacity to feel qualms over the matter, its museum-size overabundance of vocabulary, it shoulder-shrug approach to spelling, its don't-worry-be-happy concern for grammar, the result was a language whose colour and wealth Henry loved.

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