John Vaillant has turned from non-fiction to fiction in his first novel. But at it’s core, “The Jaguar’s Children” is steeped in contemporary issues. Hector is sealed inside a Mexican water tanker. He and his fellow illegal immigrants have been abandoned by the coyotes who took their money just inside the Arizona border. His thin thread to the outside world is a cellphone with one American number in its contacts.
Vaillant weaves Hector’s text based autobiography with the pains and hopes of modern Mexican’s seeking a better life, torn from their families, fleeing the killers and exploiters who have denied them opportunities in their own towns. Unfortunately, the US doesn’t offer much solace.
Vaillant has won awards for his previous non-fiction books. “The Golden Spruce,” tracked the impact of the cutting of one special tree into the darker recesses of North American cultural and environmental exploitation. He followed up with “The Tiger,” a quest to find out what it is like to live with declining tiger populations in Russia.
Vaillant was in the Puget Sound area, speaking at a number of bookstores, from Port Angeles to Lake Forest Park to Seattle.