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Loot: A novel by Tania James

Aug/06/2023 / by Team Seema

A spellbinding historical novel set in 18-century India, England, and France about a young man’s dream of leaving a mark on the world.

In the story of Loot, Abbas is just 17 years old when his gifts as a woodcarver come to the attention of Tipu Sultan, and 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 he helps to create—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. But when British forces attack and loot Mysore, Abbas’s world is turned upside down and his tiger automaton is seized as a prize of war. To prove himself, Abbas must retrieve the tiger from an estate in the English countryside, where it is displayed in a collection of plundered art.

A hero’s quest, a love story, the story of a young artist coming of age, and an exuberant heist novel that traces the bloody legacy of colonialism across two continents and 65 years, Loot is a dazzling, wildly inventive, and irresistible feat of storytelling from a writer at the height of her powers.

SEEMA’S VIEW: As both India and Pakistan celebrate their freedom from the shackles of colonialism this month, Loot is a fitting choice that transports you in time and weaves an epic tale of ambition, love, and sacrifice. Tania James infuses life in not just her characters but also into a lifeless automated tiger.


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