advance praise for The Tusk That Did the Damage
The Tusk that Did the Damage is spectacular, a pinwheeling multi-perspectival novel with a cast that includes my favorite character of recent memory, ‘the Gravedigger,’ an orphaned homicidal elephant. Tania James is one of our best writers, and here she is at the height of her powers: brilliant, hilarious, capable of the most astonishing cross-cultural interspecies ventriloquies and acrobatic leaps of empathy. You will read this ravishing novel in an afternoon and immediately want to press it on your favorite people.
The Tusk That Did the Damage is a novel of great moral intensity, with the pacing of a thriller. Everyone is implicated. Everyone is righteous. Tania James’ gift, her genius, is to turn this scenario into an occasion for grace.
The Tusk That Did the Damage is one of the most unusual and affecting books I’ve read in a long time. Narrated by a poacher, a filmmaker, and, most brilliantly, an elephant, this is a compulsively readable, devastating novel.
This second novel may be [James’] true coming out…Ivory trading, poaching, an escaped elephant, a risky love affair, all set in rural South India and “blend[ing] the mythical and the political”—this novel seems to have it all.
After her excellent first novel, Atlas of Unknowns, and short story collection, Aerogrammes, James takes on the complex issues of the ivory trade, where idealism, local needs, and animal suffering collide. Set in South India, the narrative fans out from the viewpoints of a poacher, an American documentary filmmaker, and an elephant called the Gravedigger, orphaned by poachers and cast in chains, that breaks free and begins killing and gently burying humans. Being eyed by publishers worldwide.
praise & press for Aerogrammes
Get ready for a collection of love stories that absolutely doesn’t include a variation on Cinderella-plus-Prince…every single story contains a similarly minute but luminous event, each a reminder that love entails a lot of wear and tear—but on a good day, lets us transcend the average with a little mystery called tenderness.
These feats of emotional range and inventiveness require a precise clarity of vision, especially in a collection as cohesive as Aerogrammes. Along with James’s compassion and wit, not to mention her crisp, luminous prose, that vision makes the stories in Aerogrammes a delight to read, whether in prudent intervals or a single glorious banquet.
[T]he mystery of identity is universal, and James and her generation of post-colonial, second-generation Americans are not alone in seeking to penetrate it. Like all great fiction, James’s stories emerge from a strange and beautiful source of inspiration, then proceed to transcend it…the still and elegant voice of a generous writer telling us that we are not alone.
James works magic again and again in capturing the heart of relationships between siblings and across generations.
The stories’ deep sadness is so beautifully written it takes the reader by surprise. The tales are quiet and unfold gently but pack an emotional wallop.
Thankfully, ‘sophomore slump’ is not part of Tania James’ vocabulary…James manages to sustain an unwavering level of resonating quality throughout each of the nine stories in Aerogrammes: each story is a world unto itself, standing fully formed with little lacking.
A chimpanzee and a ghost are among the characters entangled in sticky human relationships in these lyrical, warmhearted tales.
Victorious…[Aerogrammes’] nine stories crisscross in and out of reality…But throughout, the constant is James’s ability to render strong characters and tender relationships. Some are real and some are clearly imagined, but they all come to feel authentic and deftly drawn.
“[J]am-packed and hectically lovely…
The stories in Aerogrammes uphold our notion of the Possible, solidly grounded in what could reasonably happen to its characters in the modern world, but allowing us a hungry glance toward the fantastic edge of each reality. All of this our author does in prose that glides so smoothly you’d think you’re hydroplaning between covers. It doesn’t even slow you down to notice how sad she’s made you feel.”
“[A] first-rate new collection…James’ prose is clean, deep, limpid;
the stories she builds throw strange, beautiful light on completely unexpected places…
their cumulative grip is real, fresh, and worthy.”
“In her first short story collection,
James, whose debut novel Atlas of Unknowns dazzled us, returns with a vengeance, with nine expertly crafted, beautifully set tales that careen from tender to funny to crisp,
but always say exactly what they mean.”
“Although most of the characters in these nine immaculately crafted short stories share a common native land—Kerala in southern India—their range of emotions is brilliantly diverse…
James understands the nuances of emotional displacement.”
“By turns rib-shakingly funny and poignant, pinwheeling and wise, these stories are always devastatingly candid when it comes to their central preoccupations: exile and identity, the fault lines inside a family, grief and love…
Proof that the short story is joyfully, promiscuously, thrillingly alive.”
“Tania James’ stories are funny, deeply tender, and each-and-every-one memorable.
Aerogrammes is a gift of a collection from a talent who only grows.”
“These are stories that map out a fresh new world between America and South Asia with a rare blend of humor and sensitivity.
Surprising and affecting.”
“At every turn, James’ prose is crisp, observant and carefully controlled…
James projects a deep emotional intelligence.”
“A satisfying collection for lovers of short fiction from a refreshingly authentic voice.”
“Lushly exploring themes of identity and recognition, singularity and community,
James crafts taut, complete worlds populated by complex yet recognizable characters
who ultimately achieve catharsis and obtain enlightenment, often through unplanned and unconventional methods.”
praise & press for Atlas of Unknowns
“Once in a while, a novel comes along that makes you wonder why people don’t read more fiction–
why, given the right book, anyone would choose to do anything else. Atlas of Unknowns, the dazzling, original and deeply absorbing debut by Tania James, is this rare book…”
“Not your standard growing-up-in-India story…
James has concocted a charming seriocomic blend of individuals, cultures and expectations in which every component retains its individuality.”
“Delightful… James writes with poise, sly humor, and an acuity both cultural and sensuous…
The characters’ love for one other radiates off the page.”
“As spectacular a debut as any author could hope for…
With keen insight and seminal prose James has fashioned a Bildungsroman of a family saga… The breadth and depth of Atlas of Unknowns indicates that its author is as wise beyond her years as she is gifted.”
“James’ incandescent debut novel is a skillfully nuanced examination of the immigrant experience from the perspectives of those who leave and those who are left behind…
James writes with a silken elegance and solid assurance that will garner inevitable comparisons to Jhumpa Lahiri, accolades that are both apt and well-deserved.”
“Share this book
with your mother, your sister, your friend—they will thank you for it.”
“Tania James acutely charts the shifting sands of the siblings’ relationship – supportive, rivialrous, loyal and loving – with tender compassion…
This delightful debut is an insightful study of leave-taking and homecoming.”
“One of the most engaging literary reads of the year”
“Warm, beguiling, refreshingly smart…
Broadly speaking, [Atlas] concerns the interweaving of globalization and desire — how channels of love and longing bend (or break) when forced into the arcs linking today’s culturally crisscrossed societies.”
“A brilliant panorama of the human condition… An unputdownable page-turner.
So assured is the narration, so finished the skill, that you keep reminding yourself it is the work of a first time novelist.”
“Painted with exquisite imagery… Lines read as if they are extracted from poems, creating a story that is
not only entertaining but a true piece of art.”
“A wonderful achievement…
The beautifully observed characters are engaging and draw the reader effortlessly into their different dreams and aspirations.”