One of the Canada’s most wildly imaginative writers, ‘wild’ in the literal sense, his novels have introduced us to a collection of unforgettable characters from Bengal tigers to talking Donkeys. It may sound playful, but in fact he is known for tackling cultural issues and ideas. The author of four works of Fiction and a collection of letters to the Prime Ministry of Canada has won Journey Prize for Best Canadian Short story, the prestigious Man Booker Prize for his Bestselling 2001 novel Life of Pi, – ‘Yann Martel’.
Life of Pi was later adapted as Ang Lee’s featured film that was released on 28th September 2012
His fiction is always fantastical, a boy and a tiger and a drifted sea. He believed that it always has a connection to reality and dealing with the reality may vary. Life of Pi deals with issues like faith and factuality, the relation between reason and faith, which is a real world issue.
He expressed that he likes to travel, explore new things, see new places which he hasn’t seen before and love to fly long distances which help him to settle down comfortably.
“When I started a tour for Life of Pi in US, I was sent to Oxford Mississippi”, a huge University and it is very much a book town. “But I would have not visited Mississippi on my own, so it makes me discover the world in the way which I would have not done on my own”- he said.
With his Book Life of Pi sold around the world, one of the biggest stars had strong interest in exploring the world of spirituality.
The book was released on 11th September 2001 and suddenly people started discussing about the religion. Yen felt that, “Still the discussion of religion tends to ignore its reality and focus on its distortions”.
At the end of 1996 he backpacked to Indian sub-continent and was dazzled. Martel’s upbringing had been non-religious, but in India he realised he was “tired of being reasonable”; it was leading him nowhere. He was a rationalist and believed in empirical evidences; if there are no empirical evidences therefore it has to be dismissed. But in India he decided to explore, what is the means to have faith.
When a lady asked the great author “Where and when did you get the idea to write this story [Life of Pi]? Do these kinds of ideas just hit you when you least expect it, or do you search for them when you feel like it’s time to write another book”?
To which he replied “I think creativity is sometimes a question of being open. For Life of Pi that openness started in 1990 when I happened to read a review of a novel by a Brazilian writer named Moacy Scliar. The review mentioned in passing that part of the novel took place in a lifeboat where the main character is stranded with a wild animal. I thought, “What a wondrous premise. I could do something with that.” But the book was written, so I moved on. I completely forgot that review. Seven years later I was in India, meaning to work on a novel set in Portugal, much as I describe in the Author’s Note. But that novel wasn’t coming alive. I put it aside — and fell into despondency. What had I done with my life? Where was it going? The usual lamentations about a life unlived. Quick, quick, I need a story, said my unconscious. That’s when India spoke to me, India where gods and animals abound and rub shoulders, India where all stories are possible. Suddenly, that long ago premise burst into my consciousness and Life of Pi tumbled into my imagination. The whole novel came to me in twenty minutes, half an hour, story, theme, incidents, everything: the family, the zoo, the ship, the sinking, the blind Frenchman, the island, the Japanese, the two stories, the idea that life is an interpretation, that between us and reality lies our imagination, which shapes our vision of reality and why not believe the better story, etc. I spent the next four years doing research and writing the novel. That’s how Life of Pi came to life. The premise for my next novel came to me after seeing a show of Goya prints. The idea just popped into my head. But you don’t need much to start with. One little good idea leads to another little good idea leads to another one, to another one, etc, until you have an entire novel before your eyes”.
Yann describes his novel life of Pi in three important statements “Life is a story… You can choose your story… A story with God is the better story.”
“It is an absolutely tremendous feeling to write a book that connects with so many readers”- stated the Journey Prize winner.
I wondered, being a Canadian Author why was the main character an Indian? Point isn’t? There was a part of his research which contributed for this decision. Martel strongly believed India is a place where all stories are possible. “You forget that the imagination can take hold of anything and contemplate it and love it and describe it”- the author tells.
As a reader of this book I felt that the author’s experiences in India have helped him craft his book Life of Pi as you’ll be able to feel the Indian flavour as you go through. The primary motivation for writing this book was to deal with the issue of Human evil. A book which is about a relationship between a 16 years boy who ship wrecked on a life boat with a tiger, really explored some fascinating dynamics of a religion and what it meant to be human.
He also justifies his reason for selecting Tiger as Richard Parker. He wanted an Indian animal. At first he had an adolescent Indian elephant. But that was too comical. Then a rhino, but rhinos are herbivores and didn’t see how he could keep an herbivore alive for 227 days in the Pacific. So finally he settled on what now seems the natural choice, a tiger.
He chose the name Pi because it’s an irrational number (one with no discernable pattern). Yet scientists use this irrational number to come to a “rational” understanding of the universe. To him, religion is a bit like that, “irrational” yet with it we come together we come to a sound understanding of the universe. Well India, faith & factuality, religion, Brazilian book review, irrational number; inspired the author to write a wonderful novel Life of Pi. What inspires you? Share your story with us