Cover image for The hunter
The hunter
Leigh, Julia, 1970-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Four Walls, Eight Windows, [2000]

Physical Description:
170 pages ; 20 cm
General Note:
Also published by Penguin Books.

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In the vast wilderness of Tasmania's plateau, the Tasmanian tiger - the thylacine - long thought extinct, has been spotted, sparking the imagination of the locals and drawing the dubious interests of outsiders. One of the latter is M, whose objective is to find the creature for a multinational biotech company. In The Hunter, author Julia Leigh tracks M's fateful course, from his base camp with a young family whose ranks were decimated by the wilderness, to the forests where M immerses himself in the tiger's world - reading footprints in the mud, covering his scent with animal dung. What begins as a business proposition takes on mythic aspects as M's quest becomes ever more obsessive, a search not for ultimate profit but for the essence of life that technology has all but crushed.

Author Notes

Julia Leigh was born in 1970 in Sydney, Australia. She is a graduate of the University of Sydney in philosophy and law. She was admitted to the NSW Supreme Court as a Legal Practitioner and worked as a legal advisor at the Australian Society of Authors. In 2009 she earned a PhD in English from the University of Adelaide and served as Adjunct Associate Professor of English at Barnard College, Columbia University.

She is the author of The Hunter (made in to a feature film in 2011) and Disquiet. Also in 2011 she wrote and directed the film Sleeping Beauty. Her memoir Avalanche was released in 2016.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

"Martin David, Naturalist" is the name and identity assumed by the main character, the hunter whose true identity is not revealed. "M," as he is referred to, is on assignment from a biotechnical company to harvest the blood and organs of the last thylacine, a Tasanian wolflike marsupial, known as a tiger because of its markings. The animal is believed to be extinct, but recent sightings suggest the presence of a lone female. An engrossing tale of the hunt, the story also discloses the solitary M's inner dialogue, his assessment of himself within the context of the task at hand. For days and weeks at a time, M penetrates the remote wilderness that is his hunting ground, returning at intervals to his "headquarters," the home of a family on the fringe of civilization, both logistically and socially. M's identity is so much that of hunter, he becomes something feral, willing to abandon all other aspects of his life for the sake of the hunt. A very focused and absorbing debut novel. --Grace Fill

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

First novels frequently are vehicles for details of autobiography. Not here. Leigh has found an antidote for the expected. Her novel takes place in a sparsely inhabited outback, somewhere in Tasmania. M., the narrator, is an investigator for a biotechnology laboratory. His mission is to discover if a thylacine tiger, thought to be extinct, has actually survived. M. is a hard, reticent man. Like Camus' stranger, he is emotionally detached until he responds to the children of the family where he boards while he is preparing for the assignment. Most of his days, even weeks, are spent setting traps, staying awake through the night, or climbing rocks and ravines in search of the elusive thylacine after spotting a toe print. Leigh tells all this in beautifully controlled language. As hunter and prey are joined in a contest, the pursuit becomes a metaphor for M.'s very existence in an environment where common rules give way to acts of survival. A pleasure to read, this very fine novel would be a good choice for any library collecting contemporary fiction. H. Susskind; emeritus, Monroe Community College