- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st edition (January 27, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0544315499
- ISBN-13: 978-0544315495
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 84 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #980,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Jaguar's Children Hardcover – January 27, 2015
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From the Publisher
The Origins of The Jaguar''s Children
Author John Vaillant describes the book''s inspiration
In 2010, I lived in Oaxaca, editing my second book, The Tiger, and exploring the region, in part to get a feel for the country that had such a profound influence on my family. Three generations of my family before me have deep roots in Mexico. My father''s first language was Mexican Spanish and, even though I grew up in New England, I was surrounded by Spanish colonial furniture and Mexican art, ranging from pre-Columbian artifacts to portraits by Diego Rivera. These faces and objects were part of my domestic landscape from earliest childhood, and are one reason I felt so at home in Oaxaca: it looked so familiar.
While in Oaxaca, I read Aravind Adiga''s Booker Prize-winning The White Tiger. I loved the book and wondered if anything similar had been written about Mexico. I found nothing like it and, very shortly afterward, Hector announced himself to me by saying, "I''m sorry to bother you, but I need some assistance." The Jaguar''s Children is Hector''s story.
Nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award 2017
A Finalist for the Writers' Trust Award
New York Times Paperback Row
A Library Journal Editors' BEA Pick
February 2015 Indie Next Title
BAM Top Pick for Spring 2015
The Boston Globe Pick of the Week
"This is what novels can do—illuminate shadowed lives, enable us to contemplate our own depths of kindness, challenge our beliefs about fate ... Vaillant's use of fact to inspire fiction brings to mind a long list of powerful novels from the past decade or so: What is the What by Dave Eggers; The Map of Love, by Ahdaf Soueif; The Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult ... What could be more important than carving out an hour or three and opening yourself to the voice of another, to the possibility that a novel will transform you?"—Amanda Eyre Ward, New York Times Book Review
"An extraordinary feat of literary ventriloquism…The horrors of a single passage over the border blossom into a human history of sorrow and suffering, all of it beginning with the thirst to be free."—Alan Cheuse, NPR
"[A] book that should be required reading in every civics class in the country. Vaillant brilliantly exposes the dynamics driving immigration, the incredible risks people take daily to cross the border to the U.S., and the experience of those living now in the shadows in our own community. Yet the novel is never didactic… If you've ever wondered who are the men gathered along city boulevards waiting patiently for work, or why anyone would risk such predation and hardship to cross our border, this book's for you. If you're not interested? Read it anyway; it's a compulsively good story."—The Oregonian
“John Vaillant's woozy heartbreaker of a novel...Waiting and hoping are the wrenching activities that drive Vaillant’s debut novel, which potently deploys the conventions of the sands--through-the-hourglass thriller to depict the condition of a proud populace in full crisis mode...The Jaguar’s Children leavens these elements with a voice fresh and plangent.”—Boston Globe
"Fascinating ... For anyone wanting to truly understand the onslaught of illegal Mexican immigration to the United States, look no further than this book. It's a timely, gorgeously written example of how great fiction can prove more illuminating than even the most stirring nonfiction."—Dallas Morning News
"Mr. Vaillant writes with empathy and solicitude...[The Jaguar's Children] sensitively exposes a continuing human-rights travesty."—Wall Street Journal
“A terrifying border tale…though the geography of the story is that of Cormac McCarthy, the plot shares more territory with Edgar Allan Poe…an end that is improbable, dripping with irony, and entirely satisfying. Border fiction has a new top-shelf title.”—Jon Billman, Outside
"[A] devastatingly powerful first novel...The Jaguar’s Children is harrowing and beautiful, brilliant and exhausting. The concept is inspired, the plot simple and stark and terrible, the pacing inexorable. The ending is wholly unexpected in the great tradition of magical realism. This is the total package."—Lone Star Literary
"Devastating ... A bold, heartbreaking novel suffused with love for a beleaguered country."—Toronto Star
"Fearless."—Globe and Mail
"Vaillant writes with power and emotion, affection and respect for the Zapotec people and lands...An eloquent literary dissection of the divide between the United States and Mexico."—Kirkus, starred review
"Vaillant, whose international best sellers include The Golden Spruce (a Governor General’s Award winner) and The Tiger, a memorably burning-bright book, turns to fiction with results that are 'riveting.'"—Library Journal, starred review
"Vaillant's timely first novel captures both the straitened circumstances of hardworking campesinos and the humanity and raw desperation of a man slowly giving in to hopelessness."—Booklist
"A dramatic, tense novel...the importance of its themes, which closely mirror life, cannot be doubted."—Publishers Weekly
"John Vaillant is in the business of writing masterpieces. But this first novel will make his many followers fall over in shock. Vaillant sees the tragedy of human predation on the border for what it is—a real-world horror worthy of Stephen King. This book rushes at you relentless as a nightmare and doesn't let up until it kicks out the walls. Settle in. You're going to need a stiff drink. Make it ice water." —Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil's Highway, Into the Beautiful North and The Hummingbird’s Daughter
“Like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, John Vaillant’s The Jaguar’s Children will be read for a long time to come. It is a major social novel."—Philipp Meyer, author of The Son and American Rust
“Like all great castaway stories, John Vaillant’s stirring novel is a tale of Betweens. His characters, stranded inside an abandoned water tanker somewhere on the frontier, are between life and death; north and south; between the rich culture of their home, and a voracious pan-national corporate culture that will devour it. They are messengers with big news, and they are stranded in a nightmare of limbo. The novel had me from the first page. The premise is gripping, Vaillant's language has the clear, inarguable ring of a knuckle knocking against a steel drum, and the story telling is rich and lyrical. It is a brave work.”—Peter Heller, bestselling author of The Dog Stars and The Painter
"The Jaguar's Children is devastating. It's at once a literary mystery, an engrossing tour de force, and a brilliant commentary on humanity's role in the physical world. The voice that echoes out from that abandoned place Vaillant so masterfully creates won't leave me."—Joseph Boyden, author of Three Day Road and The Orenda
"I have long admired the visceral storytelling and moral complexity of John Vaillant’s brilliant non-fiction about humankind’s tragically ambivalent relationship with the natural world. Now he brings his abundant literary gifts to a debut novel set in a very real borderland in which human beings are themselves treated like animals. The Jaguar’s Children is a beautifully rendered lament for an imperiled culture and the brave lives that would preserve it. You should read it." —John Burnham Schwartz, author of Reservation Road and The Commoner
“In The Jaguar’s Children we enter the dangerous borderlands between countries and generations; myth and magic; human community and the vast, infinitely mysterious, wild environment. Here, John Vaillant proves that his heart and imagination are as expansive and fierce as his radiant intellect. Never have I encountered a writer with more energy or compassion.”—Melanie Rae Thon, author of Sweet Hearts, The Voice of the River, and Girls in the Grass
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The Jaguar’s Children: A Novel
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
978-0-544-29008-2, ebook, 280 pgs., $12.99 (also available in hardcover, Audible, and audio CD)
Thu Apr 5— 08: 31 [text]
hello i am sorry to bother you but i need your assistance— i am hector— cesars friend— its an emergency now for cesar— are you in el norte? i think we are also— arizona near nogales or sonoita— since yesterday we are in this truck with no one coming— we need water and a doctor— and a torch for cutting metal
The Jaguar’s Children is journalist and author (who cites as sources Luis Alberto Urrea and Charles Bowden; how could you go wrong?) John Vaillant’s devastatingly powerful first novel. Mexicans and Nicaraguans, men, women, and children, bakers, students and scientists, have paid coyotes (“They were talking fast all the time, but not as fast as their eyes”) to provide safe passage into the United States, welded inside a water truck (“like a bucket of crabs with the lid on and no place to go”). As the book begins, they’ve been abandoned for two days in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona (“la via dolorosa”).
Héctor (“Pollo is chicken cooked on a plate— a dinner for coyotes. This is who is speaking to you now.”) finds a contact, AnniMac, with a United States area code in his friend César’s phone and tries to reach her. In an attempt to comfort himself and save his sanity, Héctor takes us with him as he “escapes into his head,” making audio files as he talks to AnniMac about his home. Héctor talks about his family, Mexican history and geography, religion and mythology, culture and sociology, as he describes the diversity of Mexico, not a monolith, and these people as individuals, not stereotypes.
The Jaguar’s Children is full of rich description. A market in Oaxaca: “It is not even four, but already the first trucks are coming in from the coast with fish and oranges, seashells and coconuts, maybe a special order of turtle eggs hiding in the belly of a tuna, or a crocodile skull with all its teeth. And from the south they come with coffee and mangoes, chocolate, iguanas and velvet huipils, and from the Sierra with calla lilies, beef, pots in all sizes still scarred by the fire that made them.”
Vaillant’s imagery is both profound in its simplicity and brutal in its sophistication. “More and more the tank is feeling and smelling like the intestine of some animal, slowly digesting us.” Héctor watches time in the form of the cell phone’s battery life and thinks of his beloved grandfather. “Time, you know. Minutes. When my abuelo was young he didn’t know what a minute was because in Zapotec there aren’t any minutes, only days and seasons and harvests.”
There is even humor in the midst of tragedy.
When she [Héctor’s mother] was tired of listening to me, she said, “Héctorcito? How long have there been these Transformers?
And I said, “Always, Mamá. Since I was young.”
And she said, “Yes, well, that is not so long. Our beloved Jesus has been a Transformer for two thousand years.”
The Jaguar’s Children is harrowing and beautiful, brilliant and exhausting. The concept is inspired, the plot simple and stark and terrible, the pacing inexorable. The ending is wholly unexpected in the great tradition of magical realism. This is the total package.
Originally published in Lone Star Literary Life.
Most people from the US have I idea what people go through to try for a better life.
Most recent customer reviews
Great narrator on the audio version
Appreciate the relevance to current issues mixed with rich cultural history