I read this a few weeks ago, feeling very late (the book came out in 2002, to enormous acclaim). I knew it had something to do with a young man on a boat with a tiger, in the middle of the sea, and I guess this seemed to me so odd on its face that I doubted I'd find anything to relate to in it.
Shame on me. Talk about failure of imagination!
Yann Martel's accomplishment is extraordinary: a deeply involving story as well as a philosophical meditation on the nature of Story. Beautifully written and (in this edition) illustrated.