Book Review: ‘Elephantam Misophantam’ by Vinoy Thomas

Unique and interesting.

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Book Title: Elephantam Misophantam
Author: Vinoy Thomas
Translator: Nandakumar K
Publisher: Eka (Westland)
Number of Pages: 120
ISBN: 978-9357764599
Date Published: May 22, 2022
Price: INR 238

Elephantam Misophantam by Vinoy Thomas Book Cover

Book Review

The importance of literary translation stems from the opportunity it provides for individuals from various cultures to participate in and comprehend history via literature. Translations offer the door to enriching language experiences, helping individuals better understand the world and broaden their perspectives.

Reading “Elephantam Misophantam,” originally written in Malayalam by Vinoy Thomas, winner of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award 2021, and translated into English by Nandakumar K, is a fascinating read in this context. Lightning Tusker, a rambunctious wild elephant, is introduced in the first chapter. Dr. Printu, accompanied by his superior and mentor, and armed with various darts and a blowgun, is summoned by forest department authorities to end the elephant’s rampage.

Lightning Tusker proves to be a powerful foe. Despite his brutal life, he possesses a guardian energy that protects him from the darts and the men’s capture efforts. However, he is eventually overpowered and dragged away to be corralled. Here comes Granny Elephant, the venerable matriarch and lifelong nomad. When she returns to the jungle, the amazed baby elephants excitedly follow her on their little legs because they are starving for stories. She shares her collection of stories and her kind knowledge with them.

Granny Elephant reminds them that Lightning Tusker bears Elephantam within him, which causes him to be obstinate. She tells how the cosmos came from spinning dust forming a massive vortex. As the dust settled, two forces emerged: Elephantam, who represented all that was good and noble, and Misophantam, who was filled with malice and hatred and desired to rule the world. The collision of the two produced the explosive Big Bang, breaking the cosmos into innumerable shards and giving birth to the sun, earth, stars, moon, and planets.

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The story centers on two elephant brothers, Lightning Tusker, who is known for his impressive tusks, and Tuskless Tusker, who is considered a lost cause owing to his lack of tusks, which makes him a mozha, or male elephant without them. Tuskless Tusker befriends Failcat, an outsider in the tiger family, and the two form an odd connection. They start on a trip that calls into question their position as outcasts. The story shows if they can demonstrate their worth or their might by defending the jungle’s treasures from human greed.

The story of the two elephants is intertwined with the story of human avarice, motivated by a desire for tusks, sandalwood, and other forest resources. The detailed descriptions take readers into scenes of elephant capture and sandalwood cutting, immersing them in the atmosphere of the forest. Misophantam, of good vs evil, also delves into finding hidden power in the face of adversity that threatens to destroy everything. “Elephantam Misophantam” is a modern story with elements of magic realism that will interest a broad spectrum of readers.

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