Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Pi, the son of a zookeeper, finds himself adrift on the open sea in a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Piscine Patel, the second son of a zookeeper, has grown up in Pondicherry in South India. Tired of being called “Pissing Patel” he changes his name to “Pi”, a move approved by his older brother. The sensitive and inquisitive teenage Pi, searching for religious truths, embraces the teachings and guidance he receives from Hindu, Christian, and Muslim holy men.
Pi’s father, fearful for his family’s future under the current Indian government of Indira Gandhi decides to move his family to Canada.The Patels depart from Manila on a Japanese cargo ship with many of their zoo animals when the ship inexplicably goes down in the South Pacific. Pi survives the sinking, but finds himself adrift on the open sea in a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger.
Book Club Ideas
Since most of the novel takes place over the open sea, I would use sea blue as my theme color. The tablecloth in the Amazon.com link below reminds me quite a bit of the book cover of Life of Pi. You can also make (or purchase) your own fish and sea turtle decorations.
A Life of Pi book club party would not be complete without a tiger, orangutan, hyena and zebra.
Book Club Menu
Pi discusses his ”magnificent” fantasy buffet after Richard Parker asks “What would you have to eat if you could have anything you wanted?”
Pi goes into great detail listing his favorite foods. I’ve included a few of Pi’s favorites below. Click HERE to read the this passage.
Vanilla ice cream with hot, thick chocolate sauce
Mr. Okamoto gives Pi cookies to coax his story from him, and since Richard Parker plays a huge role in Pi’s story, be sure to prepare a batch of tiger sugar cookies.
I kept things very simple with these cookies, opting for refrigerator sugar cookie dough which I cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds. I set aside some of the dough and formed ears to attach to the tiger’s head. I baked the cookies according to the package directions and, when cool, made my tiger face with black decorating gel and candy eyes which I found in the baking aisle of my local grocer.
I highly recommend the delicious (and addicting) Bengal Tiger Cocktail to serve at your Life of Pi book club party. This cocktail combines the fruity flavors of pineapple, cherry, and orange. Also, for just the right touch, twist a black and an orange pipe cleaner together for a tiger’s tail to wrap around the stem of your cocktail glasses.
And, lastly …
… bananas float!
Book Club Resources
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.79 stars (264,959 ratings)|
|Amazon: 4.1 stars (2178 ratings)|
|LibraryThing: 3.95 stars (544 ratings)|
|My Rating: 5 enthusiastic stars!! I listened to this book while on a long commute. When I finished, I had tears streaming down my face and I had to sit in silence for about 30 minutes to let it all sink in. One of my top ten books of all time.|
- Why did Pi, at first, try so desperately to get Richard Parker in the lifeboat?
- Discuss the major themes running through Life of Pi (eg. spirituality, man versus beast, the will to survive, the power of storytelling, faith etc.).
- What do you make of the floating island of algae inhabited by meerkats? Why do you think Yann Martel included the island in his story?
- Which of Pi’s stories did you believe? Explain your answer.
More discussion questions can be found at ReadingGroupGuides.com
Purchase Life of Pi at your favorite bookseller
|The award-winning author of four books, the most recent of which is What Is Stephen Harper Reading?, Yann Martel is one of this country’s most interesting and surprising writers. Born in Spain in 1963, Yann grew up in various places as the son of diplomats. His parents now live in Montreal, where Yann visits regularly. He won the Journey Prize for the title story in The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios. Life of Pi was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. It was the winner of the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction as well as the Man Booker Prize. Yann lives with writer Alice Kuipers and their son, Theo, in Saskatoon. ~Randomhouse.com|
Other Works by Author and Recommended Reading
Personal Insights, Favorite Quotes, etc…
There are so many great passages in Life of Pi.
I love this passage where Pi sees Orange Juice floating up to the lifeboat on the bananas.
She came floating on an island of bananas in a halo of light, as lovely as the Virgin Mary. The rising sun was behind her. Her flaming hair looked stunning.
Here are three more passages from the indomitable Piscine Molitor Patel.
But I don’t insist. I don’t mean to defend zoos. Close them all down if you want (and let us hope that what wildlife remains can survive in what is left of the natural world). I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.
Richard Parker has stayed with me. I’ve never forgotten him. Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart.
But even wild animals that were bred in zoos and have never known the wild, that are perfectly adapted to their enclosures and feel no tension in the presence of humans, will have moments of excitement that push them to seek escape. All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.
Ang Lee’s 3D movie interpretation of Life of Pi is set to premiere in December 2012.
Do you have any other ideas or recipes for a book club party for Life of Pi? We would love to have you share them with us! You can leave a comment below and upload pictures as well.
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