For years after its 'official' extinction in the 1930s, reports of
the Tasmanian Tiger, or Thylacine, were made, and Leigh's debut
novel tells of a recent hunt for the elusive tiger on Tasmania.
Leigh is tactful but pointed about Tasmania's human inhabitants,
who are cautious creatures fiercely protective of their frontier
lifestyles. The clammy climate and the suffocating nature of the
surrounding countryside are well observed, as are the zoological
references. Leigh's unsavoury hunter is not a conservationist,
though, he's a professional on a spurious mission who has
identified the Thylacine as a source of genetical fortune. He is a
loner, a man whose objective is to harmonize with each environment
he stalks, to blend perfectly with nature so that he is assured
success as a superior predator. To do this he covers himself with
Wallaby excrement, crawls on all fours and stoically enlivens his
senses. While on his mission, the hunter lodges with a grief-ridden
family of outcasts whose father has mysteriously vanished after
sighting the Thylacine. The hunter succumbs more than he'd like to
the family's scant charms and when tragedy strikes has to further
purge his psyche to focus upon his elusive quarry. There is
something tantalizing at large here as well as the mythical beast
in this soul-stalking story about a group of doomed creatures whose
unfortunate extinction is never really in doubt. Reviewed by Chris
Packham, naturalist and broadcaster, who is the author of Wild
Shots. (Kirkus UK)
The hunter arrives in an isolated community in the Tasmanian
wilderness with a single purpose in mind: to find the last
thylacine, the tiger of fable, fear and legend. The man is in the
employ of the mysterious 'Company', but his sinister purpose is
never revealed and as his relationship with a grieving mother and
her two children becomes more ambiguous, the hunt becomes his own.
Leigh's Tasmania is a place where the wilderness can still claim
lives; where the connection between people and the land is at best
uneasy and cannot be trusted. In prose of exceptional clarity and
elegance, Julia Leigh creates an unforgettable picture of a man
obsessed by an almost mythical animal in a damp dangerous
landscape. The Hunter is the work of a compelling storyteller and a
truly remarkable literary stylist.
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