The Hunter
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The Hunter

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  380 ratings  ·  66 reviews
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.
Paperback, 170 pages
Published 2001 by Faber and Faber (first published 1999)
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Julia Leigh is an Australian author whose debut novel, THE HUNTER, is curiously about extinction. It chronicles the aim of technology to reproduce an animal in the wilds of Tasmania believed to be extinct. The short haired, dog-headed tylacine was the largest carnivorous marsupial of modern times and was commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger because of markings on its back. Although its numbers had greatly declined before the twentieth century, the tiger was last known to occupy the wooded plate...more
Under an assumed identity of Martin David, Naturalist, M arrives to hunt down the last Tasmanian tiger rumoured to exist within Tasmania. On the edge of the wilderness, he will soon slip into an untouched world of silence and stillness. Hunting the last thylacine, an animal extinct since the 1930’s, but a sighting has been reported.

Julia Leigh, born in 1970 in Sydney, Australia, has received critical acclaim even though she has had a very small writing career so far. The Hunter in 1999; a novell...more
Zeke Chase
Rating: 8.5 / 10

1. Introduction

I came across this novel when the one singular North American trailer for the film played early this year/late last year. Although the film doesn't advertise itself as an adaptation, I had the sneaking suspicion it was and thought it would work great as a novel. When I looked into it, I vowed to read the book before seeing the movie.

This short novel is only 170 pages, about a man known only as M hired by a multinational pharmaceutical/defence contracting company t...more
Of course I am attracted to any book about the mysterious thylacine and any book set in the equally mysterious wilderness of Tasmania.

I first read this book when I was in high school and have just reread it now that it's be made into a movie, which I will be interested to see.

This book is probably not for everyone. I wouldn't have thought it was for me, given the title. I can't explain exactly why I like this book. I don't find the main character, M, at all appealing. His mission appalls me and...more
Kae Cheatham
A fascinating book. Told in third person, present tense, Leigh's protagonist, M (only name given), is a purveyor of exotics and is sent to Tasmania to harvest a rare and elusive species. His journey brings into his life three people he doesn't want to care for, but does; when they are rudely taken from him, he becomes even more absorbed in his goal. A glimpse into the enigmatic M is both touching and chilling. The Tasmanian landscape is as beautiful and ruthless as the protagonist.

I had read a l...more
M. (aka David Martin, for this trip at least) is being sent on a hunt of a nearly extinct, borderline mythical, creature, the thylacine (a Tasmanian tiger). He is, above all things, a hunter. M is solitary, efficient, and ruthless; lacking the social skills to interact with his kind with ease. This is the man of whose mind we inhabit in reading this book.

As the book is being told from the perspective of M, in fact, we are privy to his thoughts whether it runs to his awkwardness is social situati...more
Ben Eldridge
In the interest of full disclosure, I am currently writing my Honours thesis on this novel. It's a striking and compelling text, featuring a stark prose style and a fascinatingly fractured narrative perspective. The enigmatic nature obviously hasn't been received entirely well, judging by the reviews on this site particularly, but it is far less driven by plot than it is by the idea of character. The unnamed central focaliser of the text simultaneously embodies the psychopathic endpoint of Carte...more
Daniel Chaikin
Just found out there is a movie on this, although the trailer has none of the sense of the book, but appears mainly interested in the plot, a hunters efforts to find and kill the last Tasmanian Tiger, a unique animal believed to have gone extinct in 1936.

The book is relentless; a mixture of man as machine, man as one able to push himself to extremes of ability and sanity, man as hopeless. I wanted to say unredeemable, but the back of the book argues this is a tale of obsession and redepmtion, so...more
You can find my full review of the book (and film) posted here at my website.
Jan 04, 2014 Lauren rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lauren by: University text
An Australian book with a quote from Hilary Mantel emblazoned across the front cover? Could it be? Combine this with author's previous golden praise from none other than Toni Morrison and you start to expect a ripper of a novel.

Leigh delivers on that promise. I read "The Hunter" in the space of day, hopping between buses and trains and then back on buses, missing a stop once I reached the novel's climax. It's the traditional, Jack London "natural man against the rest of the world story" with a t...more
I can't even imagine how a movie was made from this. Ugh. I can't believe I paid for the BOOK, there is no way I will waste more time on the MOVIE.
Shawn Davies
A sparse yet beautiful book about a hunt for the now mythical Tasmanian Tiger, but really a meditation on loss, responsibility and the life that is missed when we focus only on our goals.

With wonderfully descriptive, but yet brief and almost workmanlike language, Julia Leigh conjures up the gnarly and rough country of Tasmania’s uplands and one man’s professional and entirely focused dedication on finding in this misty and dense country an example of the supposedly extinct Thylacine.

Patience, fo...more
Her Royal Orangeness
In “The Hunter” by Julia Leigh, a man goes into the wilderness to hunt the elusive Tasmanian tiger, the thylacine. Doesn’t sound very interesting, does it? I only picked up this book for two reasons: it was longlisted for the Orange Prize in 2000, and I could use the location for a global reading challenge. I was quite surprised at how very good this book is.

The writing style is impeccable and I was completely mesmerized. Even when Leigh is just describing a plant or detailing the traps the man...more
Pete Young
This debut was a very different animal to her later Disquiet. An unnamed man has been sent by a biotech firm to retrieve the DNA of the last Tasmanian tiger, a carnivorous marsupial now believed extinct in the twentieth century. This man is only one link in a chain and we don’t see any distance beyond the job he’s doing, so what’s noticeable are the areas that Leigh doesn’t explore such as the purpose to which this DNA might be put, or the immorality of hunting down the last of a species. Instea...more
Mel Campbell
I saw the 2011 film starring the perfectly cast Willem Dafoe before I read the source novel, so what struck me most – and what I want to comment on here – were the differences between the texts. Obviously, books can explore the protagonist's interior world in a way a film can only hint at, and what made this book so enjoyable was the effortless way Leigh shows her taciturn protagonist M shifting gears from being a stranger in an alien landscape to being utterly, intuitively at home there, and th...more
Christopher Rex
For once, the Goodreads 2-star descriptor is spot-on...."it was OK." Nothing about this book really jumped out at me and got me involved. It just sort of trotted along and then came to a conclusion. The End. The good thing about it was that it was only 170pp. Had the author dragged it out further, it would've been outright boring without some significant changes. I doubt I could've tolerated 300pp. given the style, methodology and storytelling that was utilized here.

The story tells the tale of "...more
The Hunter is a remarkable first novel. The subject matter is quite different to what might be expected. I'd be interested in knowing the inspiration for Julia Leigh's subject matter. I found out things about the Tasmanian Tiger that intrigued me - things I would not necessarily have sought out about the extinct animal. Leigh's ability to provide just the right amount of detail in such a brief novel was brilliant - whether about the Thylacine, or about hunting or the beautiful landscape of Tasma...more
Jun 04, 2014 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Susan by: Friend sent me a copy
The book was always going to be a personal journey for me as I lived in Tassie about 40 years ago and had travelled into the south west frequently enjoying its beauty and wildness and its fragility. Coloured slightly by having seen the film which I consider to be an excellent glimpse into the world of the logger and farmer in that region I still found the written book an excellent literal journey into the sad indictment of the human condition in this miniaturised microcosm. Greed murder lack of...more
Not really my choice of reading. A book club book.

A difficult read about an ex SAS soldier. 'M' is very robotic and cold. He is hunting the Thylacine (extinct Tasmanian Tiger) for it's DNA. Calculating and deliberate, he is detached from those around him.
The story is tedious to read with much detail into setting traps, snares etc....
While written by a woman 'The Hunter' has a male feel to it. Could have done without it.
About a place as well as a person--the forests in southwest Tasmania, where the last tasmanian "tiger has been sighted. The narrator is employed by a shadowy company (pharmaceutical, more ominous?) to capture the tiger and preserve blood and other cells. The place descriptions are marvelous--get the reader right into the difficult terrain and wildlife, as he copes with weather, falls, loneliness--it is a gripping story--but would have been better without the rather anti-climactic ending--with it...more
Jack Shaw
Enjoyed this book. You never really know if you like the character, you're never sure if you want him to fail or succeed. Towards the end you start to see him for himself rather than just as the hunter. Very powerful.
I knew nothing of this book before going in, save that it was made into a film in 2012 with Willem Dafoe (which, it turns out, is also pretty extraordinary), and so I had no expectations. I was astounded by this poignantly-crafted tale, equal parts dark and lush—in fact, the writing is so awesomely good, the characters and plot just so perfectly constructed, that I immediately went back for seconds (happy to report it’s as good the next go-round). I’m not sure if 'Australian noir' is actually a...more
I didn't enjoy this book at all. I personally found it too crude and it lacked a proper ending which was disappointing.
Leigh's writing flows effortlessy. An omniscient narrator tells the story of the main character (the hunter)and Leigh uses indirect dialogue which is just seamlessly perfect. However, on the whole the story seems to lack.....something.....plot? I didn't understand why the family or the missing father were even mentioned as they seem to just fall off the page of the book and even though Leigh provides an explanation for their where-abouts I think they were un-necessary to the story. The ending wa...more
Charles Cassady
I HAD to read this after seeing the moody movie adaptation with Willem Dafoe. Wow, book is even more uncompromising and grim, as the nameless antihero, a ruthless corporate mercenary, stalks the last remainder of a supposedly extinct carnivore in the remote forests of Tasmania. The filmmakers amped up the violence, intrigue and sense that the hunter will redeem himself with a small act of defiance, but author Leigh has a more nuanced, sanguine outlook. A short and bracing bit of literary fiction...more
I was tempted to give this five stars, because I liked it even more than Disquiet but thought that might be a little bit too generous. Leigh is definitely an author to watch, she has a real talent for creating a sense of place and deftly describing imagery. On top of that, her characters development is subtle and nuanced and, although the subject matter can be rather intense, it never becomes melodramatic.
Reason to read was because it was called a 'Tasmanian Gothic' and that piqued my interested, although I should have looked a bit closer (hm, like.. the title) as it's really about a hunter and that isn't really my thing. I actually wasn't even certain what it was about, or even certain that I didn't know what it was about until 1/2 way through but even considering that I was completely engaged while reading. It's pretty guy-ish but overall did enjoy it, it had an interesting perspective and pret...more
Well I liked the movie better. That's really odd for me to say as I normally prefer the book. Overall the book wasn't for me. I found it rather disquieting. The movie though was great , ok well not great as that not really my genre, but definitely better. I thought that a story about a creature that was extinct would be great from reading the cover. Overall it was a little to cold blooded for my taste. However I can tell you my best friend would love it.
Conor Bateman
3.5 stars really.

An interesting narrative approach to both Australia and isolation that drew you in but didn't (perhaps this is the intention) leave me particularly satisifed at its end. The narrative break about 3/4 of the way through was a risk that paid off well in an emotional sense but I think I wanted more from the storyline or perhaps even more of a slow-burn in the length of the book.
I really enjoyed the Hunter and loved the main character. He was quite a self-sufficient and insular person who developed an openness as the story progressed. I was fascinated as the hunt went on for the last Thylacine. This book felt different from other books and created a realism and authenticity about it - less seemed more in the style of writing. It was a book that left a mark with me.
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Julia Leigh (b. 1970) is an Australian novelist, film director and screenwriter.

Born in 1970 in Sydney, Australia,[ Leigh is the eldest of three daughters of a doctor and maths teacher. She initially studied law but shifted to writing. For a time she worked at the Australian Society of Authors. Her mentors included leading authors Frank Moorhouse and Toni Morrison.

Leigh is the author of the novels...more
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Disquiet Leesgids Australië: Verhalen uit en over Australië

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“Dark here comes quickly. He undresses and slips into his silky cold sleeping bag. Up above, the clouds mask the stars and the moon alone glows like a strange pearl. Somewhere, he thinks, cherishing his last thought before sleep, somewhere, out there, the last tiger stands with her back to the rising wind and slowly shakes herself awake.” 0 likes
“Do tigers dream? he wonders. And this tiger, reputedly the last of her kind, what does she dream of? The scent of a mate? Or does she have the same dream he has or, at least, the only dream that he ever remembers: the running dream, where he is being chased for hours by an unknown foe, where he has to hide in bushes and hold his breath, where the bushes transmogrify and he is forced to run again, where he can't run quickly enough and where, finally, he knows he will be caught and that capture means a blank death, but where - dreams being what they are - the threat of capture dissolves and disappears at the very last moment so that, still sleeping, he knows he has survived and the running dream is over.” 0 likes
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