The Elephant Never Forgets • The Tusk That Did the Damage by Tania James • Alfred A. Knopf: New York. Available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book. Hardcover $22.73.
With novels constructed on interlocking stories, authors run the risk of one or more of the tales not meeting the same mark on the compelling scale, leaving perhaps, a story that doesn’t hold its own against the others. In The Tusk That Did the Damage, short-listed for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize, Tania James (The Atlas of Unknowns—reviewed in IC August 2009; Aerogrammes—reviewed in IC October 2012) nearly falls into that trap but manages to step back before being completely snared.
Taking the reader into the jungles of South India, James’ writing continues to refine in her third book and second novel. In it, she takes on the reprehensible slaughter of elephants for the ivory trade. James tells three stories that alternate and converge, and the book begins with beautifully-written chapters that ooze with the promise of continued excellence: “The Elephant,” “The Poacher,” “The Filmmaker,” each introduced in succession, and as it happens, each in their proper order of accomplished storytelling. [Read More]