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Comment: exlibrary hardcover book in jacket with light wear, shows some light reader wear throughout ,all the usual library marks and stamps.

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The Jaguar's Children Hardcover – January 27, 2015

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Editorial Reviews


A Library Journal Editors' BEA Pick
February 2015 Indie Next Title

"This is what novels can doilluminate 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


About the Author

JOHN VAILLANT's work has appeared in The New Yorker, the Atlantic, National Geographic, and Outside, among other magazines. His two previous, award-winning books, The Tiger and The Golden Spruce, were international bestsellers.

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Product Details

  • 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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.

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More About the Author

John Vaillant is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic, Outside, and Men's Journal, among others. Of particular interest to Vaillant are stories that explore collisions between human ambition and the natural world. His work in this and other fields has taken him to five continents and five oceans.

His first book, The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed (Norton, 2005), was a bestseller and won several awards, including the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction (Canada).

His second book, The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (Knopf, 2010) was an international bestseller and has been translated into 15 languages. Film rights have been optioned by Plan B, Brad Pitt's production company.

In 2014, Vaillant won Yale University's Windham Campbell prize for nonfiction (worldwide English).

His first novel, The Jaguar's Children (HMH, 2015), is coming out in January.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M.Jacobsen TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
John Vaillant has written some excellent non-fiction in the past ("The Golden Spruce" and "The Tiger") and I was eager to read his first big foray into fiction. I wasn't disappointed. His story is about Hector, an illegal immigrant who is coming from Oaxaca, Mexico trying to get across the border into the United States. Along with a truck-full of other illegals, he paid some border smugglers who sealed them all in a tank to be trucked across the border. But when the truck breaks down, the smugglers abandon them all and leave them to die of thirst, starvation, whatever. Hector is going to die. And we get to hear his story.

Frankly, I defy anyone to read Vaillant's timely novel and walk away unaffected. He could have chosen any one of thousands of similar, true stories to write about and published another of his very successful non-fiction works, yet he chose fiction. And I'm pleased that he did because in this novel, Hector's story became so many people's story. Woven into Hector's personal odyssey is the history of Mexico...Vaillant understands how necessary this is to any true comprehension of the immigration problem we face today.

The novel, like all first novels, has a few flaws: the subplot of getting Hector's recorded story out to the world falls a bit flat and I felt it was unnecessary to the book. The novel itself, after all, is Hector's story.

There's no doubt that the subject of illegal immigration is a hot-button topic in America. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as people are informed about the topic they are so hotly debating. This is one of those books that rounds out your human understanding of the topic. It's great to know facts and figures, but never lose sight of the human element. For that reason, I recommend this novel (as I do Vaillant's other non-fiction titles).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By My 2 Cents VINE VOICE on December 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In The Jaguar’s Children, Hector Maria de la Soledad Gonzalez is convinced by his friend, Cesar Ramirez Santiago to join him in an illegal attempt to cross the border to the US from Oaxaca in Mexico. The two along with 13 others are hidden in an empty water truck, and at least Hector, we know, has paid 30,000 pesos for his chance at freedom.

As the group makes their journey, it soon becomes evident that Lupo, the driver has abandoned the truck, leaving the immigrants who are confined in the tank with little food or water. Hoping to be rescued, Hector uses a hidden cellphone of his unconscious friend Cesar, in an attempt to send a signal for help.

The story is told solely by Hector through a series of texts and sound files. It’s a very different way to read a novel for sure. The story is compelling, but gets a bit confusing as a there is almost a secret subplot involving Cesar who is trying to smuggle a separate story of his own across the border as well. This part disappointed me, as I was expecting to learn more about the other immigrants and their personal stories as I read and that never happened.

The tension and desperation is felt throughout the story and that really drew me in. What causes individuals to that causes them to try such dangerous stunts? I was anxious to find out whether those involved would be rescued before it was too late.
The Jaguar’s Children is a good story given all the current controversy surrounding illegal immigrants. The story wasn’t perfect, but it did hold my interest pretty well.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kcorn TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are so many outstanding aspects to this novel that it is difficult to describe them all. For one, I am awed by the fact that this is a debut novel because it seems written by a seasoned novelist. In addition to his stellar writing, author John Vaillant took on quite a challenge: maintaining suspense (and holding reader interest) when his main character, Hector Lazaro, is trapped in an abandoned tanker truck for four days.

But he does. The tension never lags in spite of the claustrophobic space Hector is forced to occupy and the unchanging setting. What keeps the narrative engrossing is Hector's detailed description of how he came to this place, the desperate choices he had to make along the way, and his reasons for such an intense desire to leave Mexico and come to the United States. His perspective is painful and moving.

For some readers, this book may seem controversial because Hector is attempting to sneak into the United States. Illegal immigration evokes a wide range of emotions in Americans, from sympathy to anger. As for me, I felt deep compassion for Hector as he fought to stay alive, care for the wounded companion and friend trapped alongside him, and maintain hope when the chance of rescue seemed small.
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Format: Kindle Edition
You've read the newspaper stories, seen accounts and shows on the news and television - the desperate attempts of those from other countries attempting to cross the border into the United States - illegally. John Vaillant's new book (and his first work of fiction), The Jaguar's Children, starts with that as the premise, but then goes in a direction I hadn't expected.

Hector, his friend Cesar and some others leave Mexico sealed into the tank of a water truck. But when the truck breaks down, the 'coyotes' promise they'll return soon with a mechanic and leave the group sealed inside.....

Hector finds an American number on Cesar's phone and texts it, but there is no reply. When the signal dies, he instead begins to record a series of messages - perhaps to send if the signal comes back.....or if the coyotes don't return, someone will know their story.

Oh boy, it was disturbing to imagine being trapped in a metal tank, somewhere in the sun, with limited food and water - and a load of desperate people. And this is what I thought Vaillant's story would be about - but it was so much more.

Vaillant takes the novel beyond the confines of the tanker. The Jaguar's Children is amazing storytelling on so many levels - the nail biting tension of those trapped in the truck, the story of the Hector's life and his people - both immediate and on a larger scale as the vibrant history and legacy of the Zapotec are woven into his recordings. There's much food for thought as GMOs also figure into another plot thread.

It's impossible to read this book without examining and questioning the relationship between cultures, countries and politics. The Jaguar's Children is all the more compelling and intimate told in Hector's single narrative.

And throughout it all, the reader wonders if they will be rescued......A compelling, thought provoking, richly written read.
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