The Elephant Graveyard: A Moby Dick for Elephants by Boman Desai is a spellbinding novel, evenly paced, that follows a circus troupe as it deals with a tragic event. The lives of five people are upended with the death of Myrtle Bailey in the circus ring — Hazel, her daughter; Brown E, her once-upon-a-time lover and a jester; Dinty, her husband; Jonas Frank, the circus owner; Spike, her son and the ghost narrator of the story; and Hero, the blackest elephant in the world. A man named Elbo de Bleu flees from the police and seeks refuge in the circus, and his arrival seems to be followed by several catastrophic events, including the poisoning of Hero and Spike’s landing in India with a mysterious guide. Filled with hilarity and pathos, this narrative takes readers on a rollicking ride as it follows the pulse of a circus.
Boman Desai paints a fascinating picture of a throbbing circus in Kendall Green in 1948, creating characters that are multifaceted and bringing to life the circus culture. Readers get a close view of the lives of bareback riders, joeys, roustabouts, and bullmen. The story is told from the perspective of a ghost and in a tone that is both eccentric and observant. The crisp prose and the strong imagery combine with the author’s ability to write interesting details into the story to create a rich and enjoyable reading experience. Boman Desai’s characters are filled with humanity and the narrative is infused with realism. The spectacular use of anthropomorphism gives readers a unique appreciation of Hero, one of the central characters in this entrancing tale. The elephant inspires both delight and pathos as readers follow its journey in the circus. Overall, this is an original, deft, and balanced tale that offers great entertainment. The Elephant Graveyard: A Moby Dick for Elephants holds your attention from the jump and doesn’t let go.