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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Tattooed Soldier

The Tattooed Soldier

A Novel

Héctor Tobar



Antonio Bernal is a Guatemalan refugee in Los Angeles haunted by memories of his wife and child, who were murdered at the hands of a man marked with yellow ink. In a park near Antonio's apartment, Guillermo Longoria extends his arm and reveals a sinister tattoo—yellow pelt, black spots, red mouth. It is the sign of the death squad, the Jaguar Battalion of the Guatemalan army.

This chance encounter between Antonio and his family's killer ignites a psychological showdown between these two men. Each will discover that the war in Central America has migrated with them as they are engulfed by the quemazones—"the great burning" of the Los Angeles riots. A tragic tale of loss and destiny in the underbelly of an American city, The Tattooed Soldier is Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Héctor Tobar's mesmerizing exploration of violence and the marks it leaves upon us.


Neither man could claim English as his mother tongue, but it was the only language they shared. The tenant, Antonio Bernal, was from Guatemala. Through the narrow opening of a door pushed slightly ajar,...

Praise for The Tattooed Soldier

“Tobar succeeds in bringing into focus both the civil turmoil that racks Guatemala and the inner turmoil that can consume people anywhere.” —People

“Suspenseful...Tobar has a fine storyteller's instinct and moves his characters towards the climax with the skill of a chess master.” —Los Angeles Times

“[The Tattooed Soldier] casts a subtle light on the Third World terror which lies behind the faces of people on the pavements and in the parks of Los Angeles....Dazzling.” —Thomas Keneally

“Héctor Tobar's accomplished first novel affords a perspective that is overdue and urgently needed in North American literature--an insider's vision of L.A. as a Third World city. The Tattooed Soldier is a riveting book that manages to be at once politically informed and at the same time a psychologically astute study of that most elemental of stories: revenge.” —Stuart Dybek


Reviews from Goodreads

Héctor Tobar

Héctor Tobar is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and a novelist. He is the author of The Barbarian Nurseries, a New York Times Book Review Notable Book, Translation Nation, and Deep Down Dark, now the major motion picture The 33. The son of Guatemalan immigrants, he is a native of the city of Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife and three children.

image of Héctor Tobaro
© Patrice Normand / Agence Opale

Read Author Bio & Interview at WME Speakers

Read Articles by the Author at The New York Times


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