From the #1 bestselling, award-winning author of The Golden Spruce and The Tiger: a rich, gripping literary thriller in the spirit of The Constant Gardener that showcases the narrative power for which John Vaillant is internationally acclaimed.
Hector, a young Zapotec fleeing Mexico for a better life in the US with his friend Cesar, a biotech researcher, pays to be smuggled across the border by unscrupulous "coyotes," concealed in the tightly sealed, empty tank of a water truck packed with illegal migrants. Abandoned by the smugglers in the desert, they are left to die, their only lifeline Cesar's phone. When Cesar slips into unconsciousness, Hector reaches out to the one name with an American code--AnniMac--that becomes his lifeline to the world as he reveals what has brought him to this place, taking us back to an older Mexico; to the lives of his Zapotec grandparents and the ancient, mythic traditions, to the mystery behind the jaguar icon left to him by a mysterious archeologist, and the power of the corn myth. As legends fuse with the terrifying present, the dangers Cesar is fleeing become grippingly apparent: his research was threatening to expose the country's largest manufacturer of genetically modified corn, set to impose economic and cultural genocide on the native population. Finding the courage to survive is critical, even as hope dwindles.
JOHN VAILLANT's first book, The Golden Spruce, was a #1 national bestseller, winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction, the Pearson Writer's Trust Non-Fiction Award and the Roderick Haig Brown Regional Prize. The Tiger was a #1 national bestseller, a Canada Reads selection, a Globe and Mail Best Book, and won the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, the Prix Bouvier, the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize, the CBA Libris Award for Non-Fiction Book of the Year and the CBC Bookie Award for Best Overall Book. It has been translated into 15 languages. Vaillant has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Outside, National Geographic and The Walrus, among other publications. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife and children.
LONGLISTED 2017 – International Dublin Literary Award
FINALIST 2015 – Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
“Tension-filled narrative…. With superb minor characters like Don Serafín…and Hector’s abuelo, …Hector’s reflections on Oaxacan culture fascinate. Vaillant writes with power and emotion, affection and respect for the Zapotec people and lands, a fertile place, where ‘the corn made possible everything we do and are,’ now imperiled by international agribusiness. An eloquent literary dissection of the divide between the United States and Mexico.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“This terror-laden story will remind readers of Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Devil’s Highway.” —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
“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
“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
“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 and Into the Beautiful North
“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, Girls in the Grass
“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 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, bestselling author of The Dog Stars and The Painter