Life of Pi
By Yann Martel
Yann Martel was born in Salamanca, Spain, on June 25, 1963. His parents, both Canadian, served in the Canadian Foreign Services; consequently, the family traveled widely during Martel’s childhood. He studied philosophy at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, graduating in 1985. Martel worked a number of odd jobs to support himself while writing fiction. His first book, a collection of short stories called The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, was published in 1993. His first novel, Self, followed in 1996. Like “the author” who narrates Life of Pi, Martel did not achieve much commercial or critical success with either of his earlier books. Life of Pi, on the other hand, became a bestseller upon publication in 2001. It has been translated into more than forty languages and has won several prestigious awards, including the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, the Man Booker Prize, and the French Le Combat de Livres. The film version directed by Ang Lee premiered in 2012, garnering eleven Academy Award nominations and winning in four categories, including Best Director.
The outer frame of the story is narrated by an anonymous author character who clearly resembles Yann Martel. Traveling in India in search of inspiration for a new novel, the author encounters an elderly man who connects him with Pi Patel, a native of Pondicherry, India, now living in Toronto. Pi’s fictional story begins during the real historical period known as the Indian Emergency. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, having been found guilty of election fraud, was ordered to resign in 1975. Due to civil and economic challenges brought on by drought, a recently ended war with Pakistan, and the effects of the 1973 oil crisis, Gandhi declared a state of emergency, suspending elections and civil liberties and bestowing upon herself the power to rule by decree. Amid this political upheaval, Pi’s father, a zookeeper, becomes fearful that his zoo will be taken over by the government. He decides to move the family to Canada. The Patel family boards a...Sign up to continue reading Introduction >