This timely novel set in South India tells the story of contemporary ivory poaching from three perspectives a documentary filmmaker, a poacher, and from an elephant named Gravedigger.
A calf who watched his mother and other members of the elephant clan die brutally, Gravedigger grows up in captivity until he breaks his chains and slips into the forest. There he seldom shows mercy for humans.
Tania James succeeds in showing each of these beings as having complex needs. Even the poachers, two brother, named Jayan and Manu, aren’t presented as evil even though Jayan is jailed for killing 56 elephants, including a mother who waited and grieved for two days after her son died.
But this book is not all doom and gloom. The author describes the setting beautifully and captures the pressures and love shared by Jayan’s family. His wife, Leela, an ex-prostitute is one of the strongest and most interesting characters. After one elephant death, she asks her husband, “Why did you kill a god?” Read more »