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The Hunter Paperback – December 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142000027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142000021
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Already a hit in Australia, Leigh's flawed but exciting debut describes the deadly search for the fabled, and perhaps extinct, Tasmanian tiger, aka the thylacine. A mysterious man who is identified to the reader only as M assumes the identity of "Martin David, naturalist" and arrives at the filthy, disheveled house of depressed Lucy Armstrong, whose husband, Jarrah, a naturalist and bioethics expert, recently disappeared on the plateau. Lucy's home becomes the base for M's treks into the wilderness, ostensibly to study the habits of Tasmanian devils. In fact, and in secret, M works for a biotech company. His mission: to secure genetic material from what may be the world's last remaining thylacine, reportedly sighted on the plateau. M must hide his true occupation from Lucy and her lonely children, Sass and Bike, as well as from the National Parks researchers and the suspicious local townspeople. Sydney-based Leigh shifts ably between M's laconic narration and third-person storytelling. With the exception of a superfluous (and clumsily handled) romantic subplot, the novel's events are compelling, drawing the reader deep into M's inner jungle. Leigh is most effective when writing in M's voice, exploring his relationship to the wilderness, his tracking expertise and his ability "to think like a true and worthy predator." Fans of Peter Matthiessen will find Leigh darker and sometimes less ambitious, but effective in similar ways, as M's obsession with the hunt drives this moody work by a gifted new author to its chilling conclusion. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

"The topography of this first novel is familiar...but the author makes no crude push for transcendence....As clear-eyed and cold-blooded as her hero." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Birns on September 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have read many contemporary Australian novels in the past few years, and this was one of the most interesting. Its immediate subject is the search for a living specimen of the apparently extinct thylacine or Tasmanian `tiger'. The main character, Martin David or M, has been hired by biotechnological interests to secure a living specimen of the thylacine which he can then kill and clone. As he searches for the animal, he is confronted with an unexpected obstacle: the domesticity represented by Lucy Armstrong, the woman with whom he is lodging, and her two odd children Bike and Sass. Jarrah Armstrong, the husband and father of the family, has vanished in the same mountains where M is pursuing his quarry; M feels a double identification with Jarrah as he faces the same risks in the wild as did his predecessor. In addition he feels the danger, or the promise, of being co-opted into Jarrah's domestic role. Though M is attracted to Lucy and has warm feelings for the children, he warily holds on to his own male solitude, an allegiance also figured in his response to the femininity of the last thylacine itself. This is a vivid, compelling narrative whose significance does not just reside in its own details. It clearly is an allegory of `globalization', where M is the metropolitan outsider seeking to exploit the environment, and the nature and people of Tasmania represent a local particularity in danger of being absorbed into the global. The paradox here is that the global cannot operate without the content, the materiality, provided by the local. So M and the global concerns he represent NEED Tasmania, and the thylacine, even as they try to exploit it for the purposes of the global machine. The writing here is so vividly pictorial that these intellectual issues never tower above the novel's exciting plot. They are there for those who are interested, but on its own strength Julia Leigh's novel is a gripping read full of both adventure and mystery.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Those who say this book resonates long after they have finished it are correct, but it resonates because its message is so bleak, even hopeless. And one suspects that the author is intentionally playing with the reader here by turning "quest fiction" on its head to make a point about those who would not only despoil Nature for profit, but make a conscious decision to sacrifice compassion and the essence of humanity in the process.

Martin David, which may or may not be his real name, is in search of the thylacine, a Tasmanian tiger which may be extinct. In no sense of the word a "hero," Martin is being highly paid by a corporation to find the last tiger and to extract the DNA which can be used to clone it, and he is so obsessed with fulfilling his mission that he becomes virtually a hunting machine, being referred to not by his name, but simply as M. During days that he is not hunting, however, he stays with the Armstrong family, dysfunctional since the disappearance of the father, Jarrah Armstrong, and we see some niggling traces of humanity as M begins to respond to the two wonderful, resilient Armstrong children, desperately in need of his help.

In other "quest fiction," such as Faulkner's The Bear, we can distinguish between hunter and prey and gain some enlightenment about the role of man in the universe by observing the hunter's respect for his prey as it grows during the duration of the hunt. Here, however, the edges are blurred. Our view of whether M or the thylacine is really the hunter changes, as does our understanding of which is the more ruthless, and which, if either, triumphs during the hunt. Though the prose is brutally compelling and the sense of drama very high, the message here feels like a message, and it is very grim. This reader wished that it were the M's of this world who were extinct. Mary Whipple
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This short novel pulls no punches. It is beautifully written, and I note that the author has received praise from no less than Don DeLillo: "a strong and hypnotic piece of writing". Leigh's descriptions of the Tasmanian wilderness transport the reader into another world. Haven't read a survival story - physical, emotional, ecological - like it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "bcme123usa" on July 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Julia Leigh has succeeded in one thing with this book: she leaves a lasting image on the reader. Everything--from writing in present tense to giving her main character only a letter for a name--suggests she's more poet than novelist and definitely more neo than classical. While development goes from fascinating to creepy, the reader can't help but read, read, read...and you just can't escape. It's like a train wreck--you just can't look away.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen F. Abney on January 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Fascinating, but grim. M, the hunter, overcomes physical pain and emotional distraction to focus on his prey, the legendary Tasmanian Tiger, thought to be extinct. M is the modern world although he ironically considers himself a natural man. He is a mercenary who divests himself of all moral concerns in his zeal to succeed. The tiger, like Blake's tiger, is a mystery whose demise is as certain as such outdated sentiments as compassion and fidelity. What we are becoming relentlessly stalks what we once were.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Julia Leigh's The Hunter is a deeply methodical and contemplating novel that examines the nature of mankind, the way of life for animals and the wilderness, and brings up questions about what it really means to be part of the human race and, if there is a point, where one is not.

Not to give away the story, but the basic premise is a man who hunts the last Tasmanian tiger (thylacine), which has been deemed extinct since 1938. The man is cold, remorseless, methodical, disturbingly good at what he does, and fixed with his eye on the prize.

The real highpoint of the book is how it only slightly gives hints and clues on the man and his background, yet beautifully describes his inner thoughts, reflections, feelings, and detachment from the human world and the people in it. He is a hunter, and he appreciates nature, but will kill and take life away to accomplish his goals. It makes the reader contemplate what it really means to kill, to love, and to be alone in a fast-paced, fanatical, political, and rapidly changing modern world.

Read this book: you won't forget it. It is a treasure to be cherished and appreciated that teaches many lessons of life and leaves you moved and sentimental.
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