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Once Upon an Elephant

Once Upon an Elephant

By Ashok Mathur
Categories: Fiction, BIPOC, Asian Literature
Paperback : 9781551520582, 216 pages, 1998


Once Upon an Elephant is a contemporary tale of Hindu deity Ganesh and what happens when worlds, cultures, and stories collide.

A whimsical, contemporary retelling of the creation story of Ganesh--the elephant-headed Hindu deity--Once Upon an Elephant is rife with humour and political satire.

When the police find unusual boy parts--a young man's head and an elephant's body--they assume a murder has been committed, and the case goes to trial. But the appearance of Vighnesvara, a manifestation of Ganesh with the body of a young man and the head of an elephant, in the courtroom of ultra-conservative Judge McEchern throws things into chaos.

Around the world statues of Ganesh are drinking offered milk, and poor Judge McEchern has troubles enough with his carnival court: witnesses who testify in languages other than English, testimony from an accused who grows extra arms at will, and a murder victim, with the head of an elephant, who refuses to stay dead.

Ganesh is known as the lord of obstacles, and Once Upon an Elephant is strewn with them, twisting, turning, and thwarting expectations about race, class, and sexuality, all within a page-turning murder mystery.


Mathur's novel is as funny as it is smart . . . the tone is wry, sly and perfectly suited. -Toronto Star