Inspired by J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, El Niño tracks the survival of one woman and a young, undocumented migrant as they journey through the no-man’s-land of a remote southwestern desert.
Honey hasn’t seen her mother, Marianne, in more than two years. She drives deep into the once-prosperous border region of the Oro Desert for a surprise visit, only to discover that Marianne has vanished.
Alone in an unforgiving environment populated with hostile locals, she meets Chávez, a young “coyote” or human trafficker, who convinces Honey he knows her mother’s whereabouts and agrees to take her there — for a price. As they make their way through the Oro’s brutal no-man’s-land they are tracked by Ocho, a teenage bounty hunter determined to recruit Chávez. And then there is Baez, Marianne’s wizened Shepherd-coyote mix, whose death and life intimately intersect with Honey and Chávez's search for Marianne and who tells the story of the Oro Desert as it slowly comes apart.
Told in three distinct voices, El Niño is an intricately constructed and starkly written novel from a bold and inventive new writer.
Bozak's language is, for the most part, expertly controlled, her images compelling… I found myself completely drawn into El Niño and invested in the fates of the characters.
When El Nino comes together, both on the page and within the reader, the effect is both shocking and powerful, a testimony to both Bozak’s skills and daring as a writer.
No question that Nadia Bozak is a unique talent.
Nadia Bozak is a tremendous talent.
El Niño is a blazing novel about desperation and courage, survival and death, borders and barriers of all sorts and what it takes to break through. Nadia Bozak’s characters are fierce, brave, and haunting. Stylistically brazen and wildly suspenseful, this novel charges and snaps, sinks its teeth in, and doesn’t let go.
Breathtaking and widescreen in scope, EL Niño acutely renders characters drawn to a flashpoint in culture and history.