The character of the Author, whose voice appears in italics throughout the text, is both a version of Yann Martel himself as well as a fictional writer seeking to tell Pi’s story. The Author’s Note at the beginning of the novel blurs this distinction between the Author’s two possible identities, for it contains both biographical information about Martel as well as fictionalized events. Since Author’s Notes typically feature the voice of a text’s real author, Martel’s decision to mix fiction with reality challenges the reader’s assumptions about truth right from the start, setting up an important framework for understanding the novel’s central themes. The presence of the Author as a character also increases the distance between the story’s original source and the reader. Martel is telling the Author’s story, the Author is telling Pi’s story, and Pi tells his own story, both to the Author and the men from the Japanese company. Through these many layers, the absolute truth of what happened to Pi at sea becomes unclear. Each voice that tells the story does so differently, and the result is a narrative that, in walking the line between fact and fiction, invites important questions about belief and truth.
In terms of character, the Author is simultaneously hyper-observant and rather oblivious when it comes to his interviews with Pi. In the italicized chapters of Part One, he offers particularly detailed descriptions of Pi’s appearance and demeanor, his cooking habits, and the spiritual décor adorning the various rooms in his home. At the same time, however, the Author seems caught off guard when he learns of Pi’s wife, son, and daughter. This disparity in attention levels emphasizes the Author’s fixation on storytelling rather than pure documentation. His most thorough notes involve aspects of Pi’s life that pertain to his experiences as a young boy: his attitude, his Indian heritage, and his deep religious beliefs. Focusing on these specific elements rather than his life as a whole emphasizes the Author’s specific and biased approach to the way in which he expresses Pi’s narrative.