Abbas is just seventeen years old when his gifts as a woodcarver come to the attention of Tipu Sultan. He is drawn into service at the palace to build a giant tiger automaton for Tipu’s sons, a gift to commemorate their return from British captivity. His fate―and the fate of the wooden tiger―will mirror the vicissitudes of nations and dynasties ravaged by war across India and Europe.
Working alongside the legendary French clockmaker Lucien du Leze, Abbas hones his craft, learns French, and meets Jehanne, the daughter of a French expatriate. When Du Leze is finally permitted to return home to Rouen, he invites Abbas to come along as his apprentice. But by the time Abbas travels to Europe, Tipu’s palace has been looted by British forces, and the tiger automaton has disappeared. To prove himself, Abbas must retrieve the tiger from an estate in the English countryside, where it is displayed as a part of a collection of plundered art.
A spellbinding historical novel set in the eighteenth century: a hero’s quest, a love story, the story of a young artist coming of age, and an exuberant heist adventure that traces the bloody legacy of colonialism across two continents and fifty years.
Loot: A Novel
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15 January 2024
Tania James' debut novel Atlas of Unknowns was a New York Times Editor’s Choice and was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian literature. She has also written the short-story collection Aerogrammes, and her stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Freeman’s: The Future of New Writing, and One Story. The Tusk That Did the Damage was shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. She lives in Washington, D.C.