The "Author's Note" recounts how our author encountered Pi's story. It's short, but provides essential details and frames the way you read the rest of the novel.
The author begins by explaining "[t]his book was born as I was hungry" (Author's Note.1.1). Not literally hungry, but eager to write something of importance to someone, himself included. His two earlier novels have failed.
He informs us he started a novel set in Portugal in the year 1939 and flew to India to write it. He tells us that fiction is odd, in that way: a novel about Portugal might have very little to do with Portugal.
His first trip to India is unsuccessful. He is not ready for the "functioning madness" of India (Author's Note.1.4).
He returns to India, determined to write his novel.
Things seem to be going well. Dialogue, characters, descriptions all promise a beautiful novel. However, his novel dies. It's "emotionally dead," missing "that spark that brings to life a real story" (Author's Note.1.7). Understandably, the author feels a little down.
But, lo and behold! The author meets a man named Francis Adirubasamy in a coffee house on Nehru Street in Pondicherry (still in India, friends). Francis tells our author, "I have a story that will make you believe in God."
The author takes down notes on the story. From the author's reactions, we know it's a humdinger, but we don't know the particulars of the story yet.
Francis Adirubasamy tells the author he must contact the central character of this story, one Mr. Pi Patel. Ooh, things are heating up.
The author decides Pi's story must be told in the first person: "in his [Pi's] voice and through his eyes." Now we're ready to launch into Pi's story.