Carolyn Abraham
The Juggler's Children: Journey into Family, Legend and the Genes that Bind Us

Book Cover Following the international publication of Possessing Genius: The Bizarre Odyssey of Einstein’s Brain in seven countries, a finalist for the Governor-General’s Literary prize for Non-Fiction, award-winning journalist Carolyn Abraham combines cutting-edge scientific discovery and old-fashioned storytelling to explore the remarkable power and ethical pitfalls of using genetic tests to answer questions of genealogy --- by cracking the genome of her own family.

In the space of a few short years, thousands of people have been drawn to mail-order DNA tests to learn about their ancestry and deep roots. Abraham investigates whether this burgeoning new science can help solve two mysteries that have haunted her multi-racial family for more than a century. Both hinge on her enigmatic great-grandfathers, who turned up in India in the nineteenth century from different corners of the globe and with very different stories. One was a sea captain who died young, and the other, a mysterious juggler who disappeared. The question is - can the DNA they left behind reveal their stories beyond the grave?

Armed with DNA kits, Abraham criss-crosses the globe, taking cells from relatives and strangers, a genetic journey that turns up far more than she bargained for – ugly truths and moral quandaries. While DNA does lead her to long-sought answers, it also proves that probing a family’s DNA is a Pandora’s Box. With lively writing and a compelling personal narrative, The Juggler’s Children tackles profound questions around the genetics of identity, race and humanity. It tells a big story about our small world, with vivid proof that genes bind us all to the branches of one family tree.

Praise for Carolyn Abraham's The Juggler's Children:

Nominated for the 2013 Governor General's Award for Nonfiction
Shortlisted, Canadian Science Writers' Association Award (2014)
Longlisted for the 13th annual RBC Taylor Prize

"an artfully crafted pas de deux between DNA testing and family identity... Abraham writes with ease and humour, undaunted by complexity, and the narrative unfolds like a detective story" —The Literary Review of Canada

"It is, by turns, a detective story, a primer on the science of the human genome, and a revealing family portrait... This highly personal story not only entertains and informs, it forces us to ask ourselves some very basic and universal questions about the nature of identity." —Quill & Quire

"With an irreverent sense of humour and the smarts of an experienced medical-science journalist, Abraham describes how questions about her ancestry had gnawed at her since childhood, when she was "a brown girl with a Jewish last name who went to the Catholic school"... And what her genes wind up revealing-about not only her own background but everyone else's-is richer than any tall family tale." —

"The Juggler's Children is a delightful personal journey into the history of life preserved in each of our genomes... a story everyone can relate to because we all want to know who we are and where we came from. Abraham, like a great detective, sorts through the links in her family's DNA in a very readable tale that shows the complex interrelatedness of all humanity." —J. Craig Venter, the American biologist who decoded one of the first maps of the human genome

For more reviews, please see:

Length: 320 pp
Setting: US, Canada, India, Jamaica
Period: Contemporary
Publication Date: March 2013

Canadian English rights, Random House Canada

For all other rights contact The Cooke Agency.
Carolyn Abraham

Carolyn Abraham is an award-winning science writer who spent 14 years as the senior medical reporter for The Globe and Mail, Canada's leading national newspaper. Her features, focusing on the intersection of science and society, have earned more than eight national awards, including four from the Canadian Science Writers Association, and two National Newspaper Awards.

Carolyn Abraham appears often as an on-air television commentator on medical issues, wrote the chapter on the SARS outbreak in Canada at the request of the World Health Organization and co-wrote the NFB production entitled DNA and Dollars. Her first book formed the basis of the National Geographic documentary on Einstein's brain that was broadcast in 14 countries. Carolyn lives in Toronto. For more information on her work please see