Saskatoon: Thistledown Press, 2016
Guatemala: F&G Editores, 2022. La senda del jaguar. [Spanish translation by Mónica Santizo]
In 1997, as Guatemala emerges from thirty-six years of civil war, Amparo Ajuix , an energetic young Mayan woman, sees a chance for a better life for herself, her husband and her children. Amparo charts an intricate path between her indigenous Mayan culture and Cakchiquel-Mayan language, and the alluring opportunities of the nearby tourist town of Antigua. Yet barriers block Amparo’s path: her village is divided between Catholics and Evangelical Christians, her husband suspects that their second child is not his.
As Amparo’s culture erodes and her hopes confront seemingly insurmountable obstacles, she resorts to both traditional wisdom and personal determination to take a decision about her children’s future that no mother should have to make.
Drawing on rich cultural detail to illuminate family relationships in passages that are sometimes realistic and sometimes magical or humorous, The Path of the Jaguar is a novel of deep feeling and surprising reversals set in a social and geographical landscape that is as unforgettable as it is unforgiving.
“What is the way forward, for Amparo? Is she — like the jaguar on her handmade bag, like Castillo, like Henighan, like so many of us — receding further from her origins? There’s a moving passage dedicated to the idea of a “woman acting on her fantasies,” but we’re reminded, particularly by Amparo’s bold, final act that “any path we choose involves loneliness.””