THE TUSK THAT DID THE DAMAGE by Tania James

  • Written by  Mick Herron
  • Published in Books
THE TUSK THAT DID THE DAMAGE by Tania James
01 Mar
2015
It’s a dangerous business, adopting an animal’s viewpoint – sentimentality is never more than a hair’s breadth away

But Tania James skirts that pitfall with aplomb in her novel about the Gravedigger, the name bestowed on an elephant who turns killer, after his mother is butchered by poachers.Further cruelties tip him over the edge into a form of animal madness: after trampling his victims, he covers their bodies with leaves.

The other threads belong to Manu, whose ambition to be chief manager of a bank is derailed when tragedy strikes his family, and Emma Lewis, an American filmmaker documenting elephant behaviour. Manu’s brother, Jayan, is a convicted poacher who finds himself drawn back into the sordid world of elephant hunting by the Gravedigger’s murderous exploits. Emma, too, is on unstable ground. The elephants she is filming interact, she notes, ‘on a plane we could only glimpse indirectly’, but her own relationships with humans are equally confused and complex. None of the characters come away unscathed, though the precise nature of their fates is cleverly concealed until the final few pages.

The Tusk That Did The Damage is a remarkably accomplished novel and covers a lot of ground in relatively few pages, largely because of James’ ability to switch registers, from the earthy to the lyrical, with ease.

THE TUSK THAT DID THE DAMAGE by Tania James, Harvill Secker, £12.99 (hb)

This review was published in the March 2015 edition of Geographical Magazine

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Get the best stories from Geographical delivered straight to your inbox each week.

Subscribe Today

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...
    The true cost of meat
    As one of the world’s biggest methane emitters, the meat industry has a lot more to concern itself with than merely dietary issues ...
    Long live the King
    It is barely half a century since the Born Free story caused the world to re-evaluate humanity’s relationship with lions. A few brief decades later,...
    London: a walk in the park
    In the 2016 London Mayoral election, the city’s natural environment was high on the agenda. Geographical asks: does the capital has a green future, ...
    The Money Trail
    Remittance payments are a fundamental, yet often overlooked, part of the global economy. But the impact on nations receiving the money isn’t just a ...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Films

One of the most gripping mysteries of the 20th century…

Books

At the turn of the 17th century, the idea of…

Books

Mountain regions host a disproportionate share of the world’s conflicts:…

Books

Kit Mayers offers a lively account of Anthony Jenkinson, the…

Books

From food packets to fuel company manifestos, ‘sustainability’ is everywhere.…

Books

Mark Evans is a geography teacher, curious and adventurous, with…

Books

We humans have named ourselves Homo sapiens – ‘the wise…

Books

John Harding is modest about his mountaineering achievements: ‘I might…

Films

Showing at the Banff Mountain Film Festival’s UK tour, The…

Books

Water is ‘the principle of all things’, the element from…

Films

Based on true events, a journey through time and space…

Books

Some adventure stories are all bravado and bluster, a tirade…

Books

A great deal has been written about the dramatic rise…

Books

Panic, Fiennes tells us, is to be avoided at all…

Books

By the late 10th century, Oxford was the crossroads of…

Books

David Moffatt’s charming account of his time as a PhD…

Books

Bettany Hughes describes Istanbul as a ‘place where stories and…

Exhibitions

Thousands of tropical butterflies have come to the glasshouse at…

Exhibitions

An exhibition by Stephen Turner explores the natural life of…

Books

How it could be that a fashion and portrait photographer…