Long before she wrote The Juggler’s Children, a finalist for the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award in Non-fiction, Carolyn Abraham was simply a kid who couldn’t tell her friends where her family came from: it took too long to explain. A child of colour, three continents, and, it seemed, too many countries to list, she would frequently ask her parents a deceptively simple question: “What are we?”
The family tree wasn’t much help. On each side loomed great-grandfathers shrouded in mystery. One was a sea captain and the other a circus juggler. Both were nomadic men who turned up in India in the nineteenth century, and neither stuck around long enough to dispel or confirm the legends that grew up around him. One died young, a hero, and the other, an alleged murderer, disappeared. Leaving behind little more than their genetic legacies, they and their stories had haunted Carolyn since childhood.
As she reported on developments in genetics, she began to wonder – could the genes these men passed down to her family somehow reveal the secrets they took to their graves?
Filled with the humour and warmth of the most engaging family memoirs, and the suspense of unearthing the genetic stories hidden in us all, national bestseller The Juggler’s Children is a global journey that speaks to the heart and mind. It’s a poignant ride through history and modern science that raises moral quandaries and explores the power of our DNA to upend family myth, or cement it. As she searches for answers from India, China, Jamaica, the United States and Canada, Carolyn Abraham strips bare the fabrications of race and makes clear that in all the world there really is only one family tree.
The Juggler’s Children is available in Canada.
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Advance Praise for The Juggler’s Children
Ian Brown, award-winning author of The Boy in the Moon
Dr. Miriam Shuchman, prize-winning author of The Drug Trial
James FitzGerald, author of What Disturbs Our Blood
Winner of the Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize