This short novel at first seems freakish, then draws the
reader in to its premise. A down and out man in Zurich
huddles in a riverbank cave out of the rain, and sees a
tiny pink elephant moving in the darkness. The ELEFANT is
We slip back a couple of years to see the machinations of a
genetic manipulation laboratory, which draws on circus
Indian elephant breeding stock to create an altered embryo.
(You will learn more than you wanted to know about such
intimate procedures.) Elephant babies take time to grow,
and during these months, the young elephant trainer from
Burma becomes convinced that his charge may be going to
deliver a sacred elephant baby. He wishes to free her when
she arrives, from experimentation and unscrupulous
ownership, but the foreign investors from Asia will not be
To say more would be to spoil a riveting adventure, but
I'll praise the character delineation which gives us young
Kaung who is fiercely protective of his elefant, dropout Fritz
Schoch who wants to forget his former life (and just might
do that by caring for a pet), and stubborn veterinarian
Valerie Sommer, who seeks to atone for her game-hunting
father. Not to mention the glowing pink mini ELEFANT
Swiss author Martin Suter, who has written for European
newspapers, has looked thoughtfully into the matter of
elephant reproduction, genetic manipulation, and altered
gene creature ownership. He invites us to question whether
we should play creator with living animals, who should own
them, and why we should alter gene structure and
expression. We also come to respect working elephants of
various kinds and understand that they need forested
sanctuaries. This is an unusual, amazing, and fun book.
adults who like to read speculative fiction.
What would you do if you woke up to see a living, breathing,
tiny, glowing, pink elephant? If you’re anything like
Schoch, who lives on the streets of Zürich and is decidedly
down on his luck, you might well think it’s time to put away
the bottle before your hallucinations get any stranger, and
go back to sleep.
But what if the tiny pink elephant is still there when you
wake up? And clearly needs someone to take care of it? And
what if you discover that it’s been created through genetic
engineering, by a group of scientists who just want to use
it to get rich and don’t care about the elephant’s welfare?
And that they’re in cahoots with a circus and will stop at
nothing to get it back?
What if this little elephant is about to change your life?