“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”
I read this quite a few years ago, after picking it up in a charity shop and finding the blurb intriguing and so glad I did.
At the beginning of the novel, Pi is a young boy growing up in a zoo owned by his parents in India. He has a curious mind, and has a fascination with spirituality, deciding to explore every religion rather than selecting one. When Pi is a little older, his parents decide to relocate to Canada, taking a number of their animals with them on the move via cargo ship. But one night they are struck by a vicious storm and the ship sinks, leaving Pi drifting through the vast and often turbulent ocean on a lifeboat, alone save for the company of a zebra, hyena, orang-utan, and Richard Parker, a Bengal tiger.
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking that that’s ridiculous, because surely the tiger would eat all of them and all that, and I’m not going to argue with your logic. But this book isn’t about logic, it’s about belief and the nature of truth. I haven’t read much about the books reception, but I’m sure that being about faith creates all kinds of feelings in people, as discussions of faith tend to. But I thought it’s approach to the topic was fascinating, and Martel’s way of storytelling is so lyrical, it’s not difficult to find yourself swept up in it. It’s an amazing, amazing book.