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Life of Pi Author Martel Tells Freshman Class, God Is the Better Story

--President Ned Regan and Others Greet the Class of 2007--

At the Baruch College Convocation on August 28, Yann Martel, the author of this years assigned freshman text, Life of Pi , spoke by videotape from Canada and told Baruch freshmen (taking a line from the novel) God is the better story.

Some form of assent, of belief, will enrich your lives, the author said. It is a theme very strongly echoed in the novel, which concerns a young Indian mans survival on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger while he contemplates the worlds major religions and their similar approaches to the divine.

Enrichment of these freshmens lives was the theme of the day: Provost David Dannenbring explaining Baruchs educational philosophy, President Ned Regan discussing the value of a broad educational approach into their future careers, Vice President for Student Development Sam Johnson urged them to get involved, as did the president of the student government, Adrian Lovell , who named many of the organizations students can join.

Also on hand as a special guest also to discuss the book was Harcourt editor Ann Patty, who acquired and edited the book for Harcourt while selling it to other publishers overseas. It has since gone on to win the Booker Prize, the most prestigious literary award given to English language writers in the British Commonwealth, and to sell a million and a half copies in the United States alone.

I first read this book in March of 2001, Patty told the freshman class and guests. I was drawn through it page after page, and couldnt stop reading. Later that year, September 11 happened. And one of the things I love about Life of Pi is that it shows you a way of seeing the world thats exactly y the opposite to 9/11, an antidote to fanatical intolerance and ignorant misunderstanding. It celebrates the beauty of these different cultures and religions, just as it celebrates the lives and social habits of animals and man.

This is the fourth year that incoming freshman have been provided an assigned text, and by all reports this years was the most popular and best read. Convocation was followed by seminar sections in which the book was discussed, and informal polling of the seminar leaders brought news of an enthusiastic response.

It is a great book for this group to read, said one seminar leader that evening. It not only celebrates what they are, it describes their traditions with an intelligence and a beauty that many had never seen it described with before. And it generated great discussion.


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