Review: The Tusk that Did the Damage by Tania James

March 16, 2016
Author: Tania James
Publisher: Random House India
Year: 2015
ISBN: 9788184006742
Rating: ★★★½☆
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The Tusk that Did the Damage is unique, heart-warming, well-paced and superbly written. Three stories run parallel in this book- one from the point of view of the elephant, second from the filmmaker and lastly from the poacher. These three stories initially give an impression that these are three sets of different stories but then, gradually, you see how all of it is interwoven in a very intricate pattern.

The Elephant

Gravedigger was only a calf when he was orphaned. For the rest of his life, was subjected to exhibition at various crowded and noisy festivals. One day, something in him gets triggered and he snaps out and indulges in terrorizing the countrymen.

The Filmmaker

Emma is a young American filmmaker who comes to India to make a film about the rehabilitation of the animals with her college bestie. Soon, she finds herself in a coup as she stands in the midst of conservation and corruption. She ends up in a clouded shroud when she has to make a vital decision, due to her lingering feelings for an Indian veterinarian.

The Poacher

Manu, a rural simpleton who is a nerd, loses his cousin to a notorious tusker. The elephant trampled not just the cousin, but also Manu’s life. In his loneliness, he is drawn to his brother Jayan, with whom he ventures into the murky darkness of poaching.


Towards the end, when each story reaches its climax, it is like watching all the characters from an altogether new prism. The characters are bound by betrayal, love, responsibility, truth and loyalty.

I really liked the way this prose has been encompassed with such compelling characters that every time you put your book down, your mind tends to wander towards the stories. I totally recommend this book for readers who are keen on knowing how man and nature are always in conflict, and how people who genuinely want to help find it difficult to do so.


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