The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity—it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud. (Martel, Life of Pi 6)
I immigrated from South Korea to Canada when I was twelve. After picking up English in six months, the first book I read from cover to cover, and then five times over after that, was Life of Pi. I remember first reading this quote and thinking that it was the most brilliant thing that had ever been written. Actually, I thought that this book was the best thing to happen to contemporary literature, the (very) little I knew of it back then.
For those of you who haven’t read it (and I’m getting this information from Wikipedia because I haven’t reread it in many, many years, but I suggest that you stay on this page instead of going to Wikipedia because I will tell you things it won’t), Life of Pi is a novel that is divided into three sections. In the first section, the main character, Pi Patel, reminisces his childhood. His father owns a zoo in Pondicherry. That’s really the only thing that Wikipedia tells you, and most people tend to find this first section boring, but I would like to inform you that this is the best section in the book. The other sections are of course also brilliant, but the reflections that Pi has are really relatable, entertaining, thought-provoking and inspiring (Yann Martel pulls this off effortlessly). My favorite part is where Pi decides that he is going to be Hindu, Muslim and Christian all at the same time, which comes with this gem of a quote:
Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat-wearing Muslims. (Martel, Life of Pi 56)
In any case, for some reason I can’t remember, Pi’s dad has to sell his animals and the family decides to move to Canada. They get on a boat, it sinks, Pi’s family dies, and Pi is suddenly stranded on a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
Photo courtesy of donebythehandsofabrokenartist
Afterward, the story is a mixture of Pi’s struggle for survival and his philosophical musings to see the point in it all, despite seemingly hopeless circumstances. I won’t tell you whether he survives or not, but I will tell you that he lands on a carnivorous algae island.
In any case, the reason that I am bringing up Life of Pi is because a movie adaptation of it is being released this year. I knew that it was being made sometime ago, but no one around me ever talked about it and I was surprised that it did not seem to be on anyone’s radar! But now you know that the movie is coming out! If you have read it, you’re probably curious as to how this book can be made into a movie. I am curious too – after all, it is Pi thinking the whole time, and a bunch of animals. But I am sure that the movie will be good. It is directed by Ang Lee, and Tobey MaGuire plays, not Pi of course, the author, Yann Martel. Let’s keep an eye out for this – and have our fingers crossed!