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October 15, 1995|CHARLES SOLOMON

DANCE OF THE TIGER by Bjorn Kurten, translated from the Swedish by the author (University of California Press: $10.95, 255 pp.). An eminent paleontologist in Finland, Kurten has written an engaging novel to examine the replacement of the Neanderthal by the Cro-Magnon in Europe about 35,000 years ago. He posits two plausible races of hunter-gatherers: The taller, technically advanced Cro-Magnons are visually oriented and patrilineal; the smaller, matrilineal Neanderthals have a culture based on oral expression. Tiger, the orphaned son of a Cro-Magnon chieftain, becomes a reluctant bridge between the disparate races in an intriguing coming-of-age story that eclipses the hokey "Clan of the Cave Bear."

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