‘Remarkable… a rich, novelistic account based on diligent reporting … An empathetic, even intimate account, but not a dewy-eyed one … Wonderful’ Daily Telegraph ‘I absolutely loved this magnificent book’ Sebastian Junger ‘A monumental achievement’ Mitchell Zuckoff ‘[An] immersive, densely reported and altogether remarkable first book … The Last Whalers has the texture and colouring of a first-rate novel’ New York Times
At a time when global change has eradicated thousands of unique cultures, The Last Whalers tells the stunning inside story of the Lamalerans, an ancient tribe of 1,500 hunter-gatherers who live on a volcanic island so remote it is known by other Indonesians as “The Land Left Behind.” They have survived for centuries by taking whales with bamboo harpoons, but now are being pushed toward collapse by the encroachment of the modern world.
Award-winning journalist Doug Bock Clark, who lived with the Lamalerans across three years, weaves together their stories with novelistic flair to usher us inside this hidden drama. Jon, an orphaned apprentice whaler, strives to earn his harpoon and feed his ailing grandparents. Ika, Jon’s indomitable younger sister, struggles to forge a modern life in a tradition-bound culture and realize a star-crossed love. Ignatius, a legendary harpooner entering retirement, labors to hand down the Ways of the Ancestors to his son, Ben, who would rather become a DJ in the distant tourist mecca of Bali.
With brilliant, breathtaking prose and empathetic, fast-paced storytelling, Clark details how the fragile dreams of one of the world’s dwindling indigenous peoples are colliding with the irresistible upheavals of our rapidly transforming world, and delivers to us a group of families we will never forget.