If you couldn't already tell from the title, the book is about, yes, a tiger. But not just any tiger - a badass Siberian tiger that decided to make Little Debbie snack cakes out of poachers in Russia in 1997. That's right - it's TRUE. The book follows Yuri Trush, the leader of a tiger conservation unit, whose job it was to find and stop the big cat. There are also appearances by the tiger itself, but Vaillant never over-anthropomorphizes the animal - you won't catch the tiger quoting Nietzsche or updating its Twitter feed. ("Hey, y'all! Just 8 a guy 4 breakfast. Was mostly gristle - for realz. Gave me a tummy ache, LOL. #rawr") But what I really loved about the book is that it isn't just about the tense events in 1997, it's also chock-full of knowledge, like the history of man/animal interactions, Russia, communism, and perestroika. And Vaillant makes everything he writes about, even pine nuts, seem fascinating. I also now have a new irrational fear - being mauled by a Siberian tiger. (Is it really that irrational? I'm awfully attached to my mortal coil.)
Now for EXTREMELY exciting news - John Vaillant is going to be at RiverRun on Monday, Oct. 18th at 7pm, to talk about "The Tiger"! I was thinking, in the spirit of the book, I'll dig a big pit in RiverRun and cover it with branches. Hope to see you there - I'm so excited for the reading, I can barely sit still. Someone had better bring a tranq gun.