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The Jaguar's Children

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781399739016

Price: £9.99

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Hector is trapped. The water truck, sealed to hide its human cargo, has broken down. The coyotes have taken all the passengers’ money for a mechanic and have not returned.

Hector finds a name in his friend Cesar’s phone: Annimac. A name with an American number. He must reach her, both for rescue and to pass along the message Cesar has come so far to deliver. But are his messages going through?

Over four days, as water and food run low, Hector tells how he came to this desperate place. His story takes us from Oaxaca — its rich culture, its rapid change — to the dangers of the border, exposing the tangled ties between Mexico and El Norte. And it reminds us of the power of storytelling and the power of hope, as Hector fights to ensure his message makes it out of the truck and into the world.

Both an outstanding suspense novel and an arresting window into the relationship between two great cultures, The Jaguar’s Children shows how deeply interconnected all of us, always, are.


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 The Orenda
[The Jaguar's Children] captures a superhuman will: a young migrant's attempt to escape from the almost airless tank of a water truck that he is trapped inside with fourteen other passengers in southern Arizona
John Washington, New York Review of Books
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 imperilled culture and the brave lives that would preserve it. You should read it
John Burnham Schwartz, author of Reservation Road
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 House of Broken Angels
John Vaillant's revelatory nonfiction is catalyzed by eloquent prose and exuberant curiosity. In his first novel, The Jaguar's Children, Vaillant proves that his heart and imagination are as expansive and fierce as his radiant intellect. With a desperate young immigrant as our companion, we enter the dangerous borderlands between countries and generations; myth and magic; human community and the vast, infinitely mysterious, wild environment. Perilously close to death, we navigate the hallucinatory map of the mind where those who endure still hope to discover one thin thread of light leading from terror to survival. Never have I encountered a writer with more energy or compassion
Melanie Rae Thon, author of As If Fire Could Hide Us
Vaillant writes with empathy and solicitude . . . The Jaguar's Children sensitively exposes a continuing human-rights travesty
Wall Street Journal
Fascinating . . . a timely, gorgeously written example of how great fiction can prove more illuminating than even the most stirring non-fiction
Dallas Morning News
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
Devastating . . . Brutal, unforgettable . . . A bold, heartbreaking novel suffused with love for a beleaguered country
Toronto Star
Like Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, The Jaguar's Children will be read for a long time to come. It is a major social novel
Philipp Meyer, author of <i>The Son</i>
Like all great castaway stories, 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. 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 storytelling is rich and lyrical. It is a brave work
Peter Heller, author of <i>The Dog Stars</i>
A large, ambitious novel . . . reminiscent of Malcolm Lowry and Graham Greene with dashes of an old movie or two directed by Sam Peckinpah. It's a modern story representing much that is true, not fiction. This is probably the novel's most unsettling aspect
Vancouver Sun
Vaillant's triumph is the way he invites readers to know Héctor so intimately . . . 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 Salvage the Bones," by Jesmyn Ward; "American Woman," by Susan Choi; "Half of a Yellow Sun," by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie . . . 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
Globe and Mail