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March 27, 2015 / Leslie

The Tusk That Did the Damage {Review & Giveaway}

TuskThe Tusk That Did the Damage
by Tania James
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Knopf | March 2015
Format: Paperback | 240 pages
Rating: 4 of 5

About the Book

“A tour de force set in South India that plumbs the moral complexities of the ivory trade through the eyes of a poacher, a documentary filmmaker, and, in a feat of audacious imagination, an infamous elephant known as the Gravedigger.”

The main character of the novel is a rogue elephant known as Gravedigger—so named because he buries his victims after he kills them. Gravedigger was barely a few years old when he was orphaned by poachers who attacked his clan and killed his mother. He was captured and eventually sold as labor to the lumber trade, then again as transportation, and again as ‘entertainment’ in a traveling show. But he has now escaped; he cannot forget the years of mistreatment and is seeking revenge on humans.

The story is told from three alternating points of view. In addition to the elephant, there is a reluctant poacher whose cousin was killed by Gravedigger, and two students filming a documentary about a veterinarian who works to reunite baby elephants with their mothers, despite the fact that it is thought elephants will reject their young after contact with humans.

More Thoughts

This is one of the more original books I’ve read in the past year.

The story slowly builds as the reader begins to empathize with the characters and each of their situations. Regular readers here will find it no surprise that almost immediately I sympathized with the elephant and his various plights, and that this was my favorite section of the narrative. The other two points of view were not as compelling which, for me, made the story feel a little choppy. However, that did not hinder me from the enjoying the book.

Although this is a short novel, it touches on some heavy subjects and controversial topics—the ivory trade, poaching, corruption, mistreatment of animals—and the different points of view are important to the story when taken in its entirety. The three storylines do eventually merge into an ending that will not make everyone happy, but will resonate with the reader for quite a while; overall, a memorable novel.

TaniaJamesAbout the Author

Tania James is the author of the novel Atlas of Unknowns and the short-story collection Aerogrammes. Her fiction has appeared in Boston Review, Granta, Guernica, One Story, A Public Space, and The Kenyon Review. She lives in Washington, DC.

For More Info: Amazon | Goodreads | Author’s Webpage

Giveaway – US and Canada

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of The Tusk That Did the Damage to give away to a reader with a mailing address in the US or Canada. To enter, fill out the form below on or before April 8th. For an extra entry tweet or blog the giveaway and include the link. I will draw a random winner who will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond.


For a list of tour stops click HERE.

Source: Review copy from TLC Book Tours
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Leave a Comment
  1. Suko / Mar 27 2015 4:27 pm

    Leslie, I’m glad you enjoyed this. I am also on the tour (next month).


    • Suko / Mar 27 2015 4:34 pm

      (P.S. I just posted a giveaway for an art book I think you’d enjoy. Please stop by when you have a moment!)


  2. BermudaOnion / Mar 27 2015 7:38 pm

    That does sound really original! Thanks for the giveaway!


  3. Heather J. @ TLC / Mar 28 2015 2:05 pm

    I’m so very intrigued by this book – I have it at the top of my TBR list after reading all the reviews on this tour!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.



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