The beauty of Lakshmi Saravanakumar’s novel, Huntsman, lies in how masterfully Saravanakumar weaves issues of ecology and wildlife, rights of forest dwellers, and the clash between the traditional and the modern in a plot that is as gripping as the moments one might spend sitting on a machan on a tall tree in a dense forest on a full moon night, anticipating the arrival of a tiger.
What I specifically loved in Huntsmanwere the details that built up the novel when the bigger issues were not being narrated. For example, the naturalness with which polygamy and polyamoury has been depicted. I am afraid I might give out spoilers, but I cannot not mention the relationship that Thangappan – the leading man, the eponymous “huntsman” of the novel – has with his three wives – Mari, Sagayarani, and Chellayi – and the feelings about other men that the wives might have. Then there is Thangappan’s masculinity which is fragile enough to be hurt by the disapproval of a child. I would just say that these details – apart from the important bigger parts which are already there – are what make Saravanakumar’s Huntsmansuch an engrossing and – I believe it is – important read.
-Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar