We are the children of the days—that is, of time, earth, and the way we transform life into stories. Uruguayan writer Galeano, whose numerous international prizes include the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom, takes measure of our collective history, as he did in Mirrors (2009). But here he creates a universal calendar of commemoration that circles the globe, spans centuries, and encompasses war, earthquakes, dictatorships, crimes, heroism, and discoveries. Issac Newton, a man “fearful” of intimacy, nonetheless discerns “the earth’s irresistible force of attraction”; in a later era, a German hairdresser invents the permanent wave. Geronimo took charge of the Apache resistance in the nineteenth century; in the twenty-first century, the U.S. government killed Osama bin Laden in Operation Geronimo. This date-anchored human chronicle succinctly reflects our species’ vast diversity of temperaments, gifts, failings, and afflictions. As profound as Galeano’s concerns are, as penetrating as is his knowledge, he is mischievous and agile in each of the vivid 365 sketches, which distill to provocative effect vast reaches of experience and consequence, irony and tragedy, suffering and transcendence. --Donna Seaman
--This text refers to the
Children of the Days is a book to dip into; less a narrated history than a compendium of oddments. His writing is full of candour, empathy, humane concern and also predictable convictions
Herein lies Galeano’s central appeal: he evokes the marvels of a remarkable world that is not so bad after all.”
The stories themselves, broken into pieces, present both Galeano's aesthetic and his view of history. The portrait of memory as fragmentary and non-linear reproduces the reality of ageing. At the same time, the shattering of the past into pieces offers a textual embodiment of broken pasts. The impact of this literary approach to the history of violent disappearances is a lasting and universal one.”
The Independent (UK)
The arrival of a new book by one of our great writers is always an event
. You might think of his latest volume as a prayer book for our time: a page a day for 365 days focused on what’s most human and beautiful, as well as what’s most grasping and exploitative, on this small, crowded planet of ours. I would be urging all of you to celebrate the event and buy copies under any circumstances.”
Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch
"Bedtime stories, you remember? This is a book of stories for each day of the year, addressed to adults. Stories of the historical human venture. Each story half a page. Put it beside your bed and the bed of those you love."
The Times of London (UK)
"Eduardo Galeano's winningly eccentric Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History is packed with enough rogues and history changers to last a lifetime."
Vanity Fair, Hot Type
"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.... [T]his is a heady portrait of the human story rendered in broad, though no less incisive and affecting, strokes."
"Galeano's many readers will surely find this secular calendar appealing."
"Eduardo Galeano is the great master of fragments and splinters, a prince of the absurdly truthful. Children of the Days, his Calendar of Human History, is an immensely varied gathering of facts and oddments and truths and stories of every kind. Underlying them all is a passionate and humane concern for the underdog, the poor, the forgotten. How this can be so funny and at the same time so moving is a great mystery."
"What category to put our beloved poet-historian, historian-poet in? Galeano is truly a Scheherazade. He keeps me morally awake, while also lifting my spirits with his ability to reveal in story-form the deep, sweet humanity which rebounds even after the cruelest moments of history. Reading Galeano, I'm often reminded of Joseph Conrad's claims for what writing should do: 'art itself may be defined as a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect.' That is reason enough to stay morally awake!"
"In retrieving these stories from their historical exile, Galeano redeems their dignity and reanimates their tale. More than the mere act of commemoration alone, these vignettes illume the dark and disregarded corners of our collective past (and act, perhaps, as bulwark against repeating its myriad misdeeds).... Eduardo Galeano composes prose as resplendent as some of his subjects are sorrowful. With ever the eye for the neglected, distressed, oppressed, and maligned (spanning thousands of years), he creates beauty where once there was betrayal, and intrigue where ignorance once thrived. From the familiar to the obscure, Galeano masterfully recollects and rescues from amnesiac disregard those for whom history has never made room.... Galeano makes an offering of his art so that we may yet be reminded of the inherent brilliance, dignity, and wonder of a life consumed not by belligerence, fanaticism, and the shallow pursuit of wealth but one that is instead receptive to the voices of others and the world at large."
"Even when his subjects are familiar, Galeano's conclusions are always surprising...A modern book of days celebrating forgotten moments of our collective, multicultural past."
"Galeano is as damning of humanity as he is hopeful for it, packing varied historical reflection into a calendar year. His condensed history is, like life, at once dark and fascinating, sad yet uplifting."
The Observer (UK)
"Eduardo Galeano's Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History is another impressive work of cogent and creative insight from a prophet who opens our eyes to the world as it is and as it could be if more of us would fight for peace, justice, and human equality."
Spirituality & Practice
"Galeano's genre is his own - a mixture of fiction, journalism and history that, as always, is conveyed in orderly fragments of various sizes and is best understood as an outgrowth of his first midteen self-expressions as a socialist cartoonist. If you think of every short individual Galeano piece in the mammoth collection of them that comprises his life's work as a kind of verbal cartoon - or a set of variations on a verbal cartoon - then you understand both the striking singularity of his work and its innovation...Galeano's fire is unquenched. He keeps giving it to us in abundance."
"It's May, but this is a Christmas kind of a book: giftable, covetable, hefty, handsome, a veritable plum pudding of a thing, its lovely midnight-blue cover designed to look as though dotted with stars, or perhaps dusted with sugar, and slathered all over with generous custardy recommendations from both Philip Pullman and John Berger... Galeano chronicles events and anniversaries from the history of oppressed nations, adding the odd dash of fictional fun and philosophical musing... The effect is dizzying, like staring up close for a very long time at the walls of Gaudí's Sagrada Família...Children of the Days is the ne plus ultra of the Galeano style and form, a triumph of his mosaic art - 365 sad and strange and shiny little fragments, placed adjacent to one another to form a vast and seemingly coherent whole...This is a book of days, not for every day but for any day."
"Compelling, enlightening, tragic, hopeful, and hypnotic book: history in poetic snapshots... There are great stories in the book, pain and injustice too. And there is hope."
"I think there is a strength within Latin American literature that resists the gusting of that stale wind. Authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and poets like Pablo Neruda hide within their respective voices a kind of power that seems refreshingly untouched by that wind's sapping flow. Eduardo Galeano is one of these. Already a distinguished presence within Latin American literature, Galeano's Children of the Days speaks with that power that seems often so illusive in other spheres of literature. This is the power I speak of: the ability to unleash your words to reveal the innermost truth of yourself. His words carry a blunt sincerity reminiscent of Marquez's short stories - amusing, thoughtful, and scathingly critical, often all within the same sentence. With each page of Children of the Days, Galeano reveals himself anew, and challenges us to do the same... Children of the Days is many things. It is a reminder, a chance for introspection, a forgotten history, a critique and a call to arms... All of the days in Galeano's Calendar are poetry in the finest sense. His words weave surprise into the ordinary, and dig truth from the rubble of those who would hide it. Even translated to English they retain a rough rhythm as the line breaks push singular ideas from the page... Children of the Days is best read in pieces, perhaps day by day, as a reminder that we are inheritors of history both grand and foul. The way that we choose to live our lives each day will determine which side of our history we will fall on. Eduardo Galeano's clear voice propels us to sincerity. If we were to listen, maybe we could stand against stale winds as well as he."
The Englewood Review of Books
"The amazing Galeano has done it again. History becomes poetry, and mythology becomes politic."
San Francisco Chronicle