In the Shadow of the Vulture
Set in the desert on either side of the Mexico-U.S. border, this harrowing novel was inspired by an actual event: the abandonment to starvation and death of a “shipment” of Mexican immigrant workers. The sinister shadow of the vulture falls over every character in Ryga’s story—Ramon, the flesh-merchant; Juan, the bandito; Anastasio, the defrocked priest; Sandy, the tormented Vietnam vet; Antonia, the “puta” who can survive anything; Stretch, the neo-nazi chicken farmer. In a society as barren and relentless as the desert itself, all of them struggle for survival. Some of them make it. This is a novel that is not afraid to explore the depths of human despair, hope, and rage. It raises important questions about legal and spiritual aliens, and it lays bare the neo-conservative political strategy of the exploitation of labour as a solution to economic problems.