cover image The Last Hunt

The Last Hunt

Horst Stern. Random House (NY), $18 (155pp) ISBN 978-0-679-41782-8

In his first work to be published in English, noted German novelist and naturalist Stern addresses pressing political issues and timeless human concerns within the framework of a slight, wistful tale about two aging hunters, a man and a bear. The settings are Germany and an unnamed Eastern European country in the 1970s. The man, referred to as Joop, oversees the foreign operations of a large German bank; he is middle-aged, divorced, unsociable and an enthusiastic hunter. The bear is large--of record size--and he too is a loner past his prime. As the bear returns to the woods he left long ago and as Joop revisits the sites of his failed marriage, Stern traces their paths to their fateful meeting. His spare, direct prose imbues the story with the resonance of myth. Oblique comments on global ecology, the evolution of capitalism and democracy, mortality, destiny, human and animal instinct and ambivalence enrich this elemental, deeply affecting drama. (Oct.)