Rajiv Surendra first heard of Yann Martel’s Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi on the set of Mean Girls. The young Toronto actor was on a break from playing “rapping mathlete” Kevin Gnapoor, waiting for a toaster for his bagel, when a cameraman made a more-than-literary recommendation: “ ‘You’ve gotta read it, bud. It’s a book about you,’ he said.”
As Surendra recounts in his charming new memoir The Elephants in My Backyard, he quickly comes to agree. The similarities between the lives of the fictional Pi and the teenage Surendra — first-generation Canadian, the son of Tamil immigrants — seem overwhelming. When he learns that the book is going to be adapted to film, Surendra does everything in his power to earn the title role.