Throughout his career, Eduardo Galeano has turned our understanding of history and reality on its head. Isabelle Allende said his works “invade the reader's mind, to persuade him or her to surrender to the charm of his writing and power of his idealism.”
Mirrors, Galeano's most ambitious project since Memory of Fire, is an unofficial history of the world seen through history's unseen, unheard, and forgotten. As Galeano notes: “Official history has it that Vasco Núñez de Balboa was the first man to see, from a summit in Panama, the two oceans at once. Were the people who lived there blind??”
Recalling the lives of artists, writers, gods, and visionaries, from the Garden of Eden to twenty-first-century New York, of the black slaves who built the White House and the women erased by men's fears, and told in hundreds of kaleidoscopic vignettes, Mirrors is a magic mosaic of our humanity.
The acclaimed Uruguayan writer Galeano offers another striking but hard to classify work except in relation to his own oeuvre: this book being something like a companion piece to Book of Embraces or his three-volume Memory of Fire. In pithy retellings of creation myths and reflections on history, he uses the past to comment on the present: juxtaposing the origin of the Hindu caste system and the untouchable class, whose members were responsible for cleaning up the wreckage of the 2004 tsunami, revealing how the casualties of the invasion of Iraq were not only human but memory itself, embodied by the destruction of priceless artifacts from the birthplace of writing. These vignettes embrace the exalted and the humble, and consistently privilege the narratives of the dispossessed indigenous people, women and accounts from the global south. Across disparate civilizations and centuries but always with an unflinching eye (and irony) trained on the present Galeano's stories register the imaginations of our mythmaking species, the elaborate gestures of (gendered) forms of power and the spirit of rebellion and resilience that fires the underdog masses.