Monday, 9 June 2014

The Last Tiger by Tony Black

Tony Black is a prolific author, putting most of us, me included, with his output, genre variation and downright skill. His most recent novel is The Last Tiger, which has been getting rave reviews. I was lucky enough to get an early peek... Here's my view.

Myoko's life has been turned upside down. He and his family arrive in Tasmania, a world that's the opposite of the one he's just left. Myoko's father had a farm until Russian authorities took it over. Now his family are scraping a living at a large sheep farm. But Myoko's father quickly discovers a new role - that of tiger hunter. Once common, the tiger has been all but wiped out by farmers - a pest that preyed on livestock and livelihoods, hated by everyone.

But Myoko, after several direct experiences with tigers, vehemently disagrees with his father and, when what is perhaps the last lair is discovered, father and son clash.

This is a story of head vs. heart, the past vs. the present, reality vs. the supernatural. The father, who must provide for his family pitted against Myoko who's desperate to save a stately animal. However, there are also several dark secrets that Black skilfully weaves into the narrative through periodic flashbacks to the family's life on the farm and the reasons for their flight to Tasmania.

The Last Tiger is beautifully told - the nearest a novel could come to poetry without being such. The descriptions are rich and vivid, the reader is entirely immersed in the family's lives and their tribulations. The clash between father and son, the mother's descent into instability and superstition to save her husband with the fate of the tigers enmeshed with them. The sense of place is strong, the characters bright and alive.

A powerful tale of man and the environment.