What current event could be compared to Life of Pi?What current event could be compared to Life of Pi?
I think that some of the most profound parallels between Martel's work and the modern setting would rest in the search for meaning after tragedy. Pi's struggle for meaning and his transformation in character is sparked after enduring tragedy. In much the same way, Americans, and the world, struggled with the search for meaning after the attacks of September 11, 2001. The sinking of the Tsimitsum and the events of 9/11 share common threads because both moments featured life before and after them. These moments were watershed instants where life afterwards would never the be the same as life before. The reality is that both Pi and the American culture sought to make sense of the specific event as well as the life changing reality that followed. The struggle for meaning and purpose followed both realities.
You might like to think of the ways in which survival stories fashion and shape those survivors. There is a clear sense in which Pi's experiences have helped him to establish his own identity and set of values. Although some legacies of his past remain, such as his fascination with storing up food, it is clear that his identity has been greatly impacted by his experiences. I wonder whether any other example of somebody being taken out of their comfort zone and placed in a wildly different environment where they have to develop new skills to survive might be a suitable parallel. Although this is obviously not a precise parallel, there might be elements of this in people living in a different culture or society for a time.
What about globalization? I think that this fits in pretty well with this story. One of the major themes in the story is the idea of finding your niche, your identity, in a changing world. The changes include the idea of changes in culture as people in one place get exposed to ideas from other places (like with Pi and Christianity). This is continually happening today as globalization exposes us to the ideas and values of other cultures.