BANGOR – Bangor Public Library has selected for its third annual Bangor Reads book “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel, a tale sure to chase away the cold weather blahs and give thinking minds plenty of exercise.
“Life of Pi” is the story of a zookeeper’s 16-year-old Hindu-Christian-Muslim son, whose family sets sail from India to Canada with a load of zoo animals. When the ship sinks, Pi finds himself in a lifeboat on the Pacific Ocean with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger. The hyena eats the zebra and kills the orangutan. The tiger eats the hyena. Then it’s just the boy and the tiger in the lifeboat – for months.
“It’s an interesting book on survival and looking at the truth,” said Barbara McDade, director of Bangor Public Library. The book also raises questions about religion, faith and imagination.
“I think the most interesting question the book raises,” said Marc Berlin, owner of BookMarc’s Bookstore in Bangor, “is whether or not it’s a work of plagiarism.”
Martel, who won the prestigious Booker Prize last year for “Life of Pi,” has been accused of appropriating the book’s idea from Brazilian author Moacyr Scliar. Scliar’s “Max and the Cats” is about a Jewish boy drifting in a boat with a panther after a shipwreck. Martel says that he came up with the idea after reading a review of Sclair’s book.
In keeping with the theme of survival, Bangor Public Library has organized a series of events to enhance the experience of reading the book:
. “Survival at Sea” with Capt. Larry Wade, captain of Maine Maritime Academy’s State of Maine; Chief Mate Brendan McAvoy of Belfast; First Engineer David Howard of Bucksport and MMA student Allison Tunic of Bangor, 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 2. In a hands-on presentation, Wade and his crew will demonstrate survival equipment from the State of Maine, including thermal protection aids, life vests, a life raft and exposure suits.
Videos about personal survival at sea will highlight what it takes to survive a disaster at sea – training; the proper safety and emergency equipment, such as immersion and survival suits, because body heat is lost 25 times faster in water than on land; the will to live; and the ability to follow the directions for equipment in the life raft.
Capt. Wade said he has never experienced a disaster at sea. “I’ve spent my whole career trying not to,” he said.
. “Indian Cuisine,” with Rakesh Kumar, chef and owner of Taste of India restaurant in Bangor, 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan 3. Food samples will be available.
. “India, a Mosaic of Cultures,” with Natasha D’Souza of Goa, India, University of Maine graduate student, 11 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 3.
. “Modern Zoos,” with Leigh Blanda of York Wild Kingdom, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6.
. “Navigation,” with Roland Libby, Penobscot Bay Power Squadron education officer, 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 8.
. “Swiss Family Robinson,” a film about survival, 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 10.
. “Christianity,” with Bangor Theological Seminary Prof. Robert Sherman, 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 12.
. Book discussion with retired Bangor High School English teacher Diana Christakos, noon Tuesday, Jan. 13.
. “Getting Out Alive,” with WLBZ2 reporter and news anchor Shannon Moss, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14.
. “Never Cry Wolf,” a film about survival in Alaska, 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17.
. “Marine Life,” with Maine Maritime Academy assistant professor Ann Cleveland, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20.
. Book discussion with Dr. Esther Rauch, retired English professor, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22.
. “The Black Stallion,” a film about survival, 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24.
. “Am I a Hindu?,” with Vijay Venkataraman of Coimbatore, India, UMaine graduate student, 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26.
. Book discussion, with Kathleen Ellis, lecturer in English, University of Maine, 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29.
The Bangor Reads program attempts to get everyone in Bangor and beyond to read the same book at the same time and to discuss the book at library events or in private reading groups.
Copies of “Life of Pi” are available at the library. To learn more about these events and ways to participate in the Bangor Reads series, call the library at 947-8336.