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Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Tusk that did the Damage by by Tania James

From the critically acclaimed author of Atlas of Unknowns and Aerogrammes, 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.

Orphaned by poachers as a calf and sold into a life of labor and exhibition, the Gravedigger breaks free of his chains and begins terrorizing the countryside, earning his name from the humans he kills and then tenderly buries. Manu, the studious younger son of a rice farmer, loses his cousin to the Gravedigger’s violence and is drawn, with his wayward brother Jayan, into the sordid, alluring world of poaching. Emma is a young American working on a documentary with her college best friend, who witnesses the porous boundary between conservation and corruption and finds herself in her own moral gray area: a risky affair with the veterinarian who is the film’s subject. As the novel hurtles toward its tragic climax, these three story lines fuse into a wrenching meditation on love and betrayal, duty and loyalty, and the vexed relationship between man and nature.

With lyricism and suspense, Tania James animates the rural landscapes where Western idealism clashes with local reality; where a farmer’s livelihood can be destroyed by a rampaging elephant; where men are driven to poaching. In James’ arrestingly beautiful prose, The Tusk That Did the Damage blends the mythical and the political to tell a wholly original, utterly contemporary story about the majestic animal, both god and menace, that has mesmerized us for centuries.~ Amazon

Oh.My.Gosh.  I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this book. I love animals and am a huge supporter of protecting endangered species so I hold this book close to my heart.  The story is told from three points of view (I know I said earlier that I don't enjoy books that jump around from person to person but this one was totally different that usual!). It was different because not only did it give the point of view of the documentarian and the poacher, it told the story from the elephant's point of view.

I was seriously surprised to find that I was more invested in the poachers story than I was the documentarian's story. You would think I would go for the "good guy" but her story didn't draw me in like Manu's. When you hear his story, (while I don't agree with his actions), you can't help but feel for him.

My very favorite part of the book is Gravedigger's (the elephant) side of the story. My heart broke for him from birth up until the end of the story. The story of all he went thorough in his life really explained how he became rogue later on.  I will never look at elephants in the zoo the same way again.

This was an incredible book that I read in one morning while sitting in the waiting room as my husband had surgery. It was intense enough to keep my mind off what was going on in the operating room and that was some feat. If you are interested in endangered animals or just looking for a book that will draw you in and keep you there, you must read this book. This is one I will read again and again. I give this book 5/5 stars.


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