Life of Pi


Summary: Author's Note

Summary: Author’s Note

A fictionalized version of the author, Yann Martel, informs us that the book we are reading was “born as I was hungry.” He relates that the sales of his first two books were low and consequently, so were his funds. Needing inspiration for a third novel, he decided to leave Canada and travel around India for some time. The author’s existing story idea, however, falls flat. He finds it unworkable. He begins chatting with people in the course of his travels, hoping for the germ of a good story idea. In this way he meets Mr. Adirubasamy, who tells him about Pi Patel. The author returns to Canada and contacts Mr. Patel, who lives in Toronto. From Pi Patel, he learns the following story. At this point, the author tells us that to do the story justice, he must attempt to tell it in Pi’s voice. Thus, the narration switches to Pi’s perspective in Chapter 1.

Analysis: Author’s Note

The author’s note establishes the outer framework of the novel. Martel instantly toys with notions of literary genre by placing fictional information within an “author’s note”—something we would normally read as a nonfiction, direct address from the author. Martel’s author’s note indirectly identifes him as the author, and it also introduces the fictional characters of Mr. Adirubasamy and Pi Patel. Here, Martel sets the stage for a book that is primarily concerned with the concept of storytelling. Throughout the novel, Martel will examine multiple facets of storytelling, such as why and how humans tell stories and the notion of what constitutes “truth” in a story. Truth, Martel suggests, does not necessarily equal fact.

Another major theme of the novel is survival, a concept closely tied, of course, to hunger. Life of Pi features scenes of incredible hunger and startling depictions of what both animals and humans are capable of in the face of hunger; thus, it is appropriate that Martel should open with the blunt...

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