Unfurling like a medieval book of days, each page of Eduardo Galeano's Children of the Days has an illuminating story that takes inspiration from that date of the calendar year, resurrecting the heroes and heroines who have fallen off the historical map, but whose lives remind us of our darkest hours and sweetest victories.
Challenging readers to consider the human condition and our own choices, Galeano elevates the little-known heroes of our world and decries the destruction of the intellectual, linguistic, and emotional treasures that we have all but forgotten.
Readers will discover many inspiring narratives in this collection of vignettes: the Brazilians who held a "smooch-in" to protest against a dictatorship for banning kisses that "undermined public morals;" the astonishing day Mexico invaded the United States; and the "sacrilegious" women who had the effrontery to marry each other in a church in the Galician city of A Coruna in 1901. Galeano also highlights individuals such as Pedro Fernandes Sardinha, the first bishop of Brazil, who was eaten by Caete Indians off the coast of Alagoas, as well as Abdul Kassem Ismael, the grand vizier of Persia, who kept books safe from war by creating a walking library of 117,000 tomes aboard four hundred camels, forming a mile-long caravan.
Beautifully translated by Galeano's longtime collaborator, Mark Fried, Children of the Days is a majestic humanist treasure that shows us how to live and how to remember. It awakens the best in us.
In his latest, Uruguayan author Galeano (Memory of Fire) spreads the history of human civilization across a year's worth of impressionistic and factual daily entries. With each passing day, details of an important event or one lost to history's selective memory illuminate the humanity and barbarism of our species. Good and evil, beauty and ugliness, generosity and greed all are juxtaposed to great effect. An example that sets the conflicted tone for the entire work comes early on January 12, Galeano writes of the morning in 2007 when famed violinist Joshua Bell played unheeded to hurried masses of subway commuters in Washington, D.C.; the next day, TV evangelist Pat Robertson blames the massive 2010 earthquake in Haiti on the Haitian citizens themselves. The only criticism that can be leveled at Galeano's grand calendar is a familiar one the days just aren't long enough. Each takes up less than a page, and while their brevity adds to their impact, it also makes it difficult to slow down to appreciate each snapshot. Perhaps it is a challenge from author to reader to take one day at a time. Whatever Galeano's intention, this is a heady portrait of the human story rendered in broad, though no less incisive and affecting, strokes. 12 b&w illus.