The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi
Author: Eugene Ostashevsky
Publisher: New York Review of Books (2017)
The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi is a poem-novel about the relationship between a pirate and a parrot who, after capturing a certain quantity of prizes, are shipwrecked on a deserted island, where they proceed to discuss whether they would have been able to communicate with people indigenous to the island, had there been any. Characterized by multilingual punning, humor puerile and set-theoretical, philosophical irony and narrative handicaps, Eugene Ostashevsky’s new large-scale project draws on sources as various as early modern texts about pirates and animal intelligence, old-school hip-hop, and game theory to pursue the themes of emigration, incomprehension, untranslatability, and the otherness of others.
“This isn’t just a book: It is a multi-vocal orchestra. It performs some of the most playful, surprising, and innovative musical effects of our day. Yet at the center of all this play there is the large emptiness of loss. Loss, the mother of metaphysics.”
"Like Wallace Stevens, mutatis mutandis, Ostashevsky inspires us to find pleasure, if not a firm foothold, in the shifting sands of mere being."
"The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi deals with the fundamental inability of language as means of expression, utilising a lively and irreverent sense of humour in making the most complex of subjects accessible and familiar with a clarity and irony which warms and disconcerts simultaneously. There is a lyric and musical quality to his poetry informed by the traditions of jazz, early New York Music Hall comedy and the pirating life."