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Sunday, 17 May 2015

Book review: The Jaguar’s Children, by John Vaillant

There is a minor tradition wherein English-language novels are set in Mexico. It’s a spotty canon*, due in large part to the challenges faced by foreign authors wanting to write of Mexico while also feeling a need – or more fairly, a requirement – to explain the country to their readers. Good news: the celebrated non-fiction writer John Vaillant has now raised the standard with The Jaguar’s Children, his first published novel.

Our protagonist is Héctor, a young Zapotec from Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca, trapped with 14 others in a water truck en route to the United States. Abandoned by his smuggler, Héctor reaches out to an unresponsive American contact on his friend César’s phone, one “AnniMac”, first texting then recording his dire predicament. This is how the novel is told, in “first-person Zapotec.” It’s a conceit that gives us access to Héctor’s world – his personal history, his hopes, and his desperate situation.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Bob Hall hopes his $1,000 Liberal Party nomination appeal is money well spent

After former Peterborough mayoral candidate Maryam Monsef won the federal Liberal nomination by less than 20 votes, runner-up Bob Hall decided to fork over $1,000 for a recount. But first the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) has to decide whether the situation warrants it.
And the winner is... 

“I would have a hard time accepting that they won’t do a recount,” Hall says. “I’ll hear in two weeks what the Appeals Committee decides.”

Hall, a former Peterborough city councilor, notes that other federal parties have an automatic recount for contests that fall within 50 votes. From his perspective, having to pay to participate in what might otherwise be an automatic process is less than ideal.

“The $1,000 is a little hard to swallow,” he says, noting that he is a regular middle class Canadian. “I’m not overly impressed by that.”