Tiger by Polly Clark

1. First lines. 2. Published 2019 Hatchett; Quercus 3. Beard-man by Pexels [Free for commercial use; No attribution required] via Pixabay 4. Siberian tiger By S. Taheri, [CC BY-SA 2.5] Changes made: background removed. via Wikimedia
Awesome descriptions of tigers and their behaviour in the wild.

In the UK, Frieda is working as a zookeeper looking after a tiger. In Siberian Russia, Tomas and his father Ivan are setting up a sanctuary for tigers, rescuing injured tigers from poachers and rehabilitating them. A particular tigress is living and hunting in the Siberian forest with her two cubs, and she is fiercely protective of her territory. Her attack on an indigenous woman of the Udeghe tribe, sets in motion a connection between Frieda and Tomas.

“How he hoped she had not had time to mourn that she was leaving her child behind. This, Tomas thought, must be the hard part of dying, worse than any fear of a monster descending: abandoning someone who needed you, your own flesh and blood, whom you loved more than yourself.”

“A tiger never gives in, not even a cub, not even in death.”

“Under Putin, anyone who could scrape together the cash could set up a reserve. All over the taiga, the forest had been carved up into reserve-sized chunks and the owner of each could do as he wanted with it: sell licences for logging or hunting, which was profitable but very short term, or, as Ivan did, have a brainwave and decide to make a business out of saving tigers. This aligned itself with Putin’s own desire to be the Tiger President, and to be seen as the saviour of the symbol of Russia.”

~Quotes from “Tiger” by Polly Clark
  • Guardian: “This startling exploration of how human and animal territories collide is written with a poet’s ear and a naturalist’s eye”… “Evoking non-human minds demands a great deal of a fiction writer: the imagination to grasp and convey the instincts, habitats and characteristics of other species; the time, money, humility and charm to conduct deep research; and the restraint to avoid obvious pitfalls of anthropomorphism, zoological pedantry and romanticisation. Undaunted, Clark cut her teeth as a zookeeper in Edinburgh, then travelled to the forests of Siberia to track Amur tigers. The resulting novel is a startling, gore-splattered, nerve-racking exploration of how human and animal territories – both physical and psychic – collide.”
  • Saltire Society Judge’s comments: “This journey into the last wilderness for a damaged and intriguing heroine goes for the jugular in every way, with a lyrical and visceral evocation of place and people that seized and awed the judges.”

Author: Polly Clark

Awards: 2019 shortlisted for Saltire Fiction Book of the Year

The Siberian Tiger (or Amur Tiger) is endangered, with only about 540 left in the wild. Reserves are being set up in Russia to protect the tiger population from poaching and illegal logging. President of Russia, Vladimir Putin has passed laws to protect the animal he sees as a symbol of national pride. More information: Wildlife Conservation Society of Russia; The Amur Tiger Centre; The Amur Tiger Programme

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