About the Book

by Zak Ahmed Uddin

This chapter is a free excerpt from Quicklet on Yann Martel's Life of Pi.

“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?"

Yann Martel's Life of Pi (2002) has had a tumultuous journey since its arrival in print. The survival allegory first came about nine years earlier during the author’s extensive travels in India. Martel told The Big Think: "What brought me to religion was, well, writing Life of Pi and what brought me to writing Life of Pi was a trip to India. India is this continent civilization, where for better or for worse, religion is still a - is part of the mainstream of life. You see temples, mosques, churches, everywhere. These famous, massive pilgrimages in which, you know, millions of Hindus join into it."


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“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?"

Yann Martel's Life of Pi (2002) has had a tumultuous journey since its arrival in print. The survival allegory first came about nine years earlier during the author’s extensive travels in India. Martel told The Big Think: "What brought me to religion was, well, writing Life of Pi and what brought me to writing Life of Pi was a trip to India. India is this continent civilization, where for better or for worse, religion is still a - is part of the mainstream of life. You see temples, mosques, churches, everywhere. These famous, massive pilgrimages in which, you know, millions of Hindus join into it."

His main reading during his extended travels were castaway stories and survival tales. The author's manuscript was rejected by five major publishers before finding a sympathetic reader at Knopf Canada. Its success was almost instantaneous - the book was awarded the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2003. It went on to win several international literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Asia Pacific Prize, Les Combat Les Livres and the South African Boeke Prize. In the Author's Note at the start of the novel, Martel later credited Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar. Scliar's 1981 novella Max and the Cats depicts an Atlantic Ocean crossing by a Jewish-German refugee who only has a jaguar for company. Martel acknowledged that he was inspired after reading an old review of the book, initially prompting accusations of plagiarism from Scliar, who retracted them after a meeting with the author.

Life of Pi is currently being adapted by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon director Ang Lee. In December 2012, cinema-goers will be able to see Pi and his companion Richard Parker sailing across the Pacific in 3D. Fox Filmed Entertainment chief executive Tom Rothman told LA Times: "Ang believes he can use 3-D to envelop the audience, to transport the audience on what is a very metaphysical journey. It's a different language of storytelling. He's using the stereoscope to adjust the audience's relationship to that character." The book has also been illustrated and successfully produced for the stage since its publication. It received one of its highest accolades in 2010 when President Obama wrote personally to Yann Martel, saying that he and his daughter “preferred” the story with animals.

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