The Tusk that Did the Damage (Alfred A. Knopf), the second novel by Tania James ’99, explores the violence of the ivory trade in the forests of south India. This beautifully written novel unfolds through three distinctive narrators. The first is Manu, a rice farmer reluctantly drawn into the criminal world of poaching. The second is Emma, a young American documentary filmmaker. The third narrator is the most striking: the elephant Gravedigger, orphaned by poachers and sold into a lifetime of servitude. Breaking free from his captivity, Gravedigger embarks on a rampage across the south Indian countryside.
The New York Times said, “Tania James’s impressive new novel, The Tusk That Did the Damage, brings a sharp and unnerving sensibility to bear on dismal and necessary events … When the stories of the Gravedigger, the poacher and the filmmaker inevitably converge, the novel veers toward a fatalistic irony, but in James’s assured and skillful treatment, the result is stark tragedy.”
Tania’s other books include the novel Atlas of Unknowns and the short story collection Aerogrammes. Her short stories have appeared in Boston Review, Granta, Guernica, One Story, A Public Space, and The Kenyon Review.
Photo by Melissa Stewart