What the Leopard Was Seeking




Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



Document Type



Ten years after a helicopter crash that took her father and almost took her, Sierra Amsel leaves the wreckage to seek out answers on a mission that leads her to the mercurial thrill-seeker Georgie Price, another lost woman, with whom Sierra will find not only a complicated sisterhood, but who will lead her on a dangerous round-the-world course for revenge. What the Leopard Was Seeking, a title based on the epitaph of Hemingway’s short story “Snows of Kilimanjaro,” opens with 26-year-old Sierra Amsel, our central character, in a free-fall. It is a description of the accident she survived a decade ago, an accident that took her father and provides the backdrop and catalyst for the present action of the novel. After receiving a “sign” from a woman she’s been effectively stalking (sometimes physically, mostly virtually) since the accident, she leaves her disintegrating family and relationship to find her, Georgie Price, the daughter of the woman her father was having an affair with. Sierra and Georgie start their rocky, complicated relationship in Nicaragua, and continue it on a precarious and near-fatal journey to Tanzania, the place where Sierra was conceived and where they believe their parents have come to live their second lives, the lives that don’t include them, the abandoned daughters. At first glance a revenge story that reaches its climax hundreds of feet above the ground in the Devil’s Armchair atop Zambia’s Victoria Falls, What the Leopard Was Seeking is ultimately not about retribution but about forgiveness and revitalization, not about simply moving on, but moving up.



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Committee Chair

Davis, Jennifer S.



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