An effort to make ethnology more accessible, this novel is extremely successful. The story easily holds the interest of academic and layman alike, and the depictions of life in West African Sahelian countries (Niger in particular) and of the immigrant's experience in America are unfailingly accurate as well as insightful. As an attempt to make ethnology more personal, however, Jaguar is somewhat disappointing. The book's attempt at psychological immediacy struggles because the language sounds stilted (possibly the result of translation) and ethnologic observations voiced from the emic perspective of fictional characters sound odd. Jaguar is recommended to anyone interested in Sahelian cultures, immigration, and the tensions between new and old ways of life in West Africa.
Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.