June 13, 2023
Tania James' novel Loot (Knopf 2023) is about a young woodcarver who is ordered by Tipu Sultan, ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in late 18th century India to carve a large wooden tiger. The tiger seems to devour a life-sized European man. As the apprentice of an alcoholic French clockmaker, Abbas has a short time to create this gift for the sultan’s youngest sons after they return from being held captive by the British. Later, British forces attack Mysore, kill as many as they can reach, and ship everything of value back to England. Abbas survives the attack and then the sea and other adventures in order to reach Rouen, where his teacher’s teacher lives. Spanning 50 years and two continents, Loot is a hero’s quest, a love story, and an exuberant heist novel that traces the bloody legacy of colonialism across the world.
Tania James is the author of the novels The Tusk That Did the Damage and Atlas of Unknowns and the short-story collection Aerogrammes. Her fiction has appeared in Freeman’s, Granta, The New Yorker, O, The Oprah Magazine, One Story, and A Public Space. Tania has been a fellow of Ragdale, MacDowell, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the Fulbright Program. She teaches in the MFA program at George Mason University and lives in Washington, D.C. When she's not writing, James likes to dance--whether it's the classical Indian dance form of kuchipudi or simply busting a move in her living room. Her favorite mode of transport is bicycle and her favorite place to chill is the terrace of the Martin Luther King Jr library.