Study Guide

Life of Pi Author's Note

By Yann Martel

Author's Note

  • 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.