Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Tusk that Did the Damage: Review and Giveaway

Three may be a crowd, but it's also the magic number in this novel. 

Published in 2015, The Tusk that Did the Damage is the new book by Tania James, who also wrote Atlas of Unknowns, and Aerogrammes, a short story collection.  This novel relies on three narrators, The Elephant, The Poacher, and The Filmmaker, who tell their stories in separate, succinct chapters throughout the book.

The first narrator is the main character, the elephant, who's known as the Gravedigger because he kills people, then "buries" them neatly.  Next there is Manu, the (reluctant) poacher, who joins his older brother, Janay.  Manu begins his saga with the story of his cousin, Raghu.  In the third chapter, we meet Emma, the filmmaker, a young American who's filming a documentary of Dr. Ravi Varma, the head veterinarian at The Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, with the help of her friend, Teddy, another filmmaker.  The characters in this novel are connected by the events that unfold in this absorbing and well-crafted story, which takes place in South India, and provides a startling picture of India and the perils of elephant poaching and the ivory trade.

"We watched the elephant rummage her trunk through the ditch.  I'd been looking at elephants so long I forgot sometimes what a magical organ was the trunk, like an arm exploding out from the middle of the face, packed with enough muscle to knock down a tree, enough control in its tiny tapering finger to grip a lima bean.  But even that miraculous limb couldn't save the baby.  The mother stood there, withering before our eyes. Huge and forlorn, pugnacious and bewildered."
~ The Tusk that Did the Damage, Tania James

Since reading the Babar books as a child, I've been partial to elephants, although I also feel a bit sorry for them, due to their lumbering hugeness and "wrinkly skin".  Overall, though, I find elephants to be exotic and fascinating creatures.  In The Tusk that Did the Damage, the Gravedigger is a unique and particularly unforgettable pachyderm protagonist.  In the very first chapter of the book, readers will feel compassion for this elephant when he loses his mother early in life. Through the character of the Gravedigger, the author depicts the life of an elephant, with keen descriptions of sensory perceptions that are realistic yet imaginative. Tania James provides a plethora of sensory details, and we can imagine how it might feel to actually be an elephant.

Though heart-breaking at times, this novel is beautifully written. The Tusk that Did the Damage brims with suspense, danger, humor, and it has some tender moments as well.  The three narrators enhance the story, and give it breadth.  You understand the plight of the elephant, as well as the plight of people trying to get by and make a living, however they can.  I learned many things about elephants and poaching in this novel.  I read an uncorrected proof, but even in this form, I found the book to be remarkable.  Some of the descriptions are particularly intense and intriguing, and I've gone back to reread and re-experience parts.  I relished reading every chapter, every page, and every line!

Thanks to the author, publisher, and TLC, I'm very pleased to offer a giveaway for a copy of The Tusk that Did the Damage (U.S.A. /Canada).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or indicate that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
  • For one more entry, mention a book you've read that features an elephant.

Enter by 5 PM PST on Monday, April 20.  One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, April 21.  Good luck!

Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for providing a copy of this book. For more reviews and other features, please visit the other stops on TLC's book blog tour for The Tusk that Did the Damage.


  1. I'm so glad to see you loved this since I just won a copy of it! It sounds so unique - I don't think I've ever read an elephant narrator. No need to enter me.

  2. This sounds wonderful. I've always loved elephants and have felt sorry for them - glad they are no longer being used act acts in some circuses. Jodi Picoult's last book has a focus on the plight of elephants as well.

    I'd love a chance to win.

  3. I posted on one of Tania James' short stories two years ago and would for sure like to read this book.

  4. I had also heard good things about this book elsewhere.

    I might actually find this book a little too hard to take as I have trouble reading about bad things happening to animals.

    Humanity has done and is doing terrible wrong to elephants.

  5. I enjoyed your review. This sounds like a wonderful book. The title had me curious right away.

  6. A captivating story which interests me greatly. Your review was excellent. Thanks for this fascinating feature and giveaway. I am an e-mail subscriber. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. Intense seems like the perfect word for this book. I can't wait to pick up a copy for myself!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  8. This is wonderful! I have always loved elephants. Thank you for the opportunity!

  9. Sounds like a unique read. Alas not one I'd read but I'm glad you enjoyed it. Good luck to everyone entering the giveaway.

  10. Glad you enjoyed this one Suko, it sounds interesting especially if it showcases the plight of the elephants.
    I feel bad for these animals when I hear of the poaching and of the ones made to perform in the circus. They are really intelligent.
    Great post! Enjoy your weekend :)

  11. Ive been seeing this book around quite a bit. I wish I wouls have had time to review it. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'll add your giveaway to my giveaway page but don't enter me. I've been housecleaning all my paper books lately and donating them. I was running out of room already. Lol.

  12. This looks so interesting! I'd love to win it, thank you for the giveaway!

  13. And I follow via GFC as Julianne (Outlandish Lit). My email address is on my blog! Thanks!


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