The Elephants in My Backyard

Mean Girls actor Rajiv Surendra explores what it means to fail, after his pursuit of a role in Life of Pi ends in heartbreak.

Rajiv Surendra

In 2003, Rajiv Surendra was acting in Mean Girls, playing the beloved rapping mathlete Kevin Gnapoor, when a cameraman on set gave him a copy of Life of Pi, inadvertently changing the course of his life. Rajiv dove into the novel, mesmerized by all the similarities between Pi and himself — they are both five foot five, with coffee-coloured complexions; both share a South Indian culture; Pi lives in a zoo and Rajiv grew up in Scarborough, Ont., right beside the Toronto Zoo. When Rajiv learns that Life of Pi will be made into a major motion picture, he is convinced Pi is the role he is destined to play.

Poignant, funny, colourful and absolutely unforgettable, The Elephants in My Backyard is an inspiring tale of taking risks and following one's dreams, of process and determination, and looking back on one's endeavours — be they successes or colossal defeats — with new appreciation and meaning. (From Random House Canada)

The Elephants in My Backyard was on the 2017 Canada Reads longlist.

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From the book

Our house backed onto a huge valley that bordered the Toronto Zoo, and in the evenings I'd hear elephants, lions, and wolves through my bedroom window. I was twelve when I was overcome with need to play zookeeper myself and build a chicken coop in my backyard. My dad loved the idea, but there was much protesting from Ma. We already had a pet, she said, our little shih tzu named Meesha. Which I had to share with my sisters, I argued; I wanted chickens for myself. "They smell, child," Ma insisted impatiently, "and they make noise. And I doubt it very much that we are allowed to have chickens in the backyard." 

From The Elephants in My Backyard by Rajiv Surendra ©2016. Published by Random House Canada.

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