First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, one solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The crew of the surviving vessel consists of a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan, a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger and Pi – a 16-year-old Indian boy. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary pieces of literary fiction of recent years.
Yann Martel’s Life of Pi is a transformative novel, a dazzling work of imagination that will delight and astound readers in equal measure. It is a triumph of storytelling and a tale that will, as one character puts it, make you believe in God. Can a reader reasonably ask for anything more?
Wow! It’s now the last Friday of February! Just like that, two months have passed us by. As one friend have said, it feels like 2021 is in a rush. I do feel that as well. I really don’t mind if, in speeding up, the world will heal and recover from this pandemic that has been gripping us for over a year already. With that being said, I hope you are all safe.
Fridays also mean First Impression Friday updates. I am wrapping up February with another Man Booker Prize-winning book, Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. The winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize, it is my fourth winner this month after Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain (2020), Anne Enright’s The Gathering (2007) and Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s List/Ark (1982). The Man Booker Prize is certainly a well of interesting, colorful, and powerful reads. Life of Pi is no different for it was even adapted in to the big screen, carrying the same title. It was actually through the movie that I have first came across the title. Not much of a moviegoer, I have to thank my friend for recommending it to me.
Life of Pi commences in the Indian special territory of Pondicherry where the readers meet the Patel family. The patriarch is the local zoo’s manager and his son, Piscine Molitor Patel is the novel’s primary narrator. The first parts deals with his childhood in Pondicherry. Piscine Molitor was named after a popular Parisian swimming pool. Because of his unusual name, he was bullied by his schoolmates, calling him “Pissing”. This prompted him to shorten his name to “Pi.” The first part of the story also dealt with Pi’s brush up with religion. He was traditionally raised as a Hindu but when he reached the age of fourteen, he decided to adhere to the teachings of Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam.
The Second Part of the novel commenced with the Patel family boarding the Tsimtsum, a Japanese freighter contracted to transport the family and their animals to North America. However, a few days after disembarking from the Port of Manila, the ship encountered a storm which sunk the boat. Pi managed to survive, escaping the ill-fated ship through a small lifeboat. He soon learned that he wasn’t the only occupant of the lifeboat. Along with him survived a female orangutan, a hyena, a zebra, and the most fearsome denizen of their Pondicherry zoo, a Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Barker. This is the part that is familiar to those who have already watched the movie.
It is only fair to admit that I already have an inkling on how the narrative is going to end. Moreover, the book begun with the author’s note. He stated that prior to writing Life of Pi, he reached a career crossroad. He doesn’t have an idea on what to do and where to go next. In this period of trouble and certainty, he came across the idea of writing about Pi Patel. So far, I am liking Martel’s writing. It is steady and sure, enough to reel me in to this thrilling story even though the thrill has been diminished by my knowledge of how the story is going to unfold.
Nevertheless, I am looking forward to completing the novel over the weekend. I am nearly done with Part Two and the story is unravelling although it has become flat. I think I’ll reserve my full thoughts until I complete reading it. How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!