“Brimful of factual details ... This novel will appeal to any reader interested in...the lives of the intrepid Victorian specimen hunters” —Historical Novel Society
“A vivid and gripping read.” —Natalie Heng, The Star online (Malaysia)
1858:– The Malay Archipelago.– In the remote tropics a young British naturalist, Alfred Wallace, toils in obscurity. He collects specimens—beetles, moths, ants and birds— that sell for pennies apiece in England. One night, suffering from fever and hallucination, Wallace solves the greatest mystery of the era: the origin of species. To circulate his discovery, he contacts a distant acquaintance: Charles Darwin. Unbeknownst to Wallace, Darwin has been secretly penning a near-identical version of the same evolutionary theory for twenty years. Darwin soon achieves world-renown and Wallace earns, if nothing else, widespread grudging respect. But then Wallace returns to England where his advocacy for ideas ranging from socialism to spiritualism launches him on a collision course with the men at the very heart of the scientific establishment, including Darwin.
The Evolutionist tells of one man’s determination to seek out his own truths in his own unique way and the price he pays. From oppressive jungle to mid-Victorian London, this is a disturbing tale of money, class, faith and discrimination.
Avi Sirlin grew up in Toronto, Canada. After graduating university with a degree in Biology, he worked in a variety of occupations, including pastry baker, forklift operator and landscaper. He'd already enjoyed fulfilling stints as house painter, taxi driver, hot dog vendor, laboratory technician, grain handler, parking lot attendant and telephone solicitor (for which he deeply apologizes, no matter how desperately he needed his tuition money). Each was interesting work, in its own way, but nonetheless he elected to seek a new career path. When Avi next graduated, he had a law degree. As a new lawyer, he first worked with a large Toronto law firm where, from his 35th floor office window, he could see the silos of Victory Soya Mills and reflect fondly on those days when he'd slugged ninety-pound bags of soybean meal all day. After a couple of years practising labour and employment law, Avi left the firm and founded his own law practice in downtown Toronto, eventually focusing upon immigration and criminal law. Fifteen years went by in a blur. Then Avi decided it was time for a change. Avi now lives in Victoria, British Columbia.Â Although he still does some legal consulting work, for the past several years he has focused on writing. He has written two screenplays and aÂ novel. He is currently at work on his next novel.