William's Reviews > The Elephanta Suite: Three Novellas

The Elephanta Suite by Paul Theroux
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's review
Apr 10, 09

bookshelves: india

The Elephant Suite compiles three fascinating, morally complicated novellas about Americans, primarily tourists, in India. Typically, the stories find the Americans wholly out of their element, devastated or seemingly destroyed by what they find. But for some there is redemption, and for fewer still a form of salvation. What makes Elephanta Suite an uncomfortable but revealing book are the strongly implied (ultimately ambiguous) parallels drawn, or suggested by appearance, between animal and human behaviors. Perhaps, within a culture that sees within animals its Gods in disguise, the parallels can be fitting, but from the Western perspective of the Americans the effect is unsettling, and suggestive of the bigotry often ascribed to Americans out in the world. Not each of the three stories satisfy equally, but taken as a whole the book is worth while, well-crafted, and affecting in its presentation of the chaos created where East and West collide.
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