© Mark Cocker 2013
Published by Jonathan Cape, part of Vintage Publishing
In seven works of non-fiction, especially in Birders and the universally acclaimed Birds Britannica, Mark Cocker has established himself as one of the foremost writers on nature and wilderness. In his most lyrical work to date, he has drawn together the best of his writing on wildlife, mainly taken from columns for the Guardian and Guardian Weekly.
These carefully distilled articles, over a hundred in all, illustrate some of his most enduring themes over the last twenty years - the magical dynamism of birds, as well as the subtle beauty, vast skies and wildlife riches of the Norfolk landscape. In its celebration of the natural world, the hugely varied selection also demonstrates a concern to champion the despised and neglected - rats, gulls, crows (the 'Black Beasts' of his first section) - as much as it explores some of the most charismatic creatures on Earth - penguins, whales, lions and elephants. Cocker is equally good at evoking the commonplace mysteries of garden blackbirds and thrush's song, as he is the exotic otherness of mountain gorillas or the one-horned rhinoceros.
With its attention to detail, especially the sharpness of perception and the precise use of language, the writing in A Tiger in the Sand shows qualities more usually associated with poetry than with prose.