Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History

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Galeano’s new book is his richest and most poetic yet, a joyous calendar of the sacred and the damned, a book of inspiration for those fighting tyranny, greed, and amnesia

Unfurling like a medieval book of days, each page of Galeano’s new work has an illuminating story that takes inspiration from that day of the calendar year. Each entry resurrects the heroes and heroines who have fallen off the historical map, but whose lives remind us of our ...

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Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History

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Galeano’s new book is his richest and most poetic yet, a joyous calendar of the sacred and the damned, a book of inspiration for those fighting tyranny, greed, and amnesia

Unfurling like a medieval book of days, each page of Galeano’s new work has an illuminating story that takes inspiration from that day of the calendar year. Each entry resurrects the heroes and heroines who have fallen off the historical map, but whose lives remind us of our darkest hours and sweetest victories.

Among many others, you will discover the Brazilians who held a “smooch in” to protest a dictatorship that banned kisses that “undermined public morals” and learn of the day Mexico invaded the United States, the “sacrilegious” women who had the effrontery to marry each other in a church in 1901, and Abdul Kassem Ismael, the grand vizier of Persia, who kept books safe from war by creating a walking library, 117,000 books aboard four hundred camels, forming a mile-long caravan.

Beautifully translated by Galeano’s longtime collaborator, Mark Fried, Children of the Days is a great humanist treasure that shows us how to live and how to remember. It awakens the best in us.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. Agent: Susan Bergholz, Susan Bergholz Literary Services. (May 1)
From the Publisher
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.”
Financial Times

“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."
John Berger

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."
Publishers Weekly

"Galeano's many readers will surely find this secular calendar appealing."
Kirkus Reviews

"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."
Philip Pullman

"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!"
Julia Alvarez

"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."
Shelf Awareness

"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 Guardian (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."
Buffalo News

"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."
The Guardian

"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."
Chicago Tribune

"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

Kirkus Reviews
In trademark telegraphic style and with familiar themes, Uruguayan social critic Galeano (Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone, 2009, etc.) serves up a book of days for our time. As readers of the Memory of Fire series and his other books will know, Galeano is nigh-on obsessed with the European conquest of America and the bad behavior that accompanied it, to say nothing of the way in which one American nation in particular has repaid the favor by bullying the rest of the world ever since. While his first entry in this calendar is deceptively gentle ("we ought to acknowledge that time treats us rather kindly"), his second harkens to the year in which that conquest began, 1492, when the Jews and Moors were also expelled from Spain and their holy books destroyed in the belief that "Fire was the only fate for words born in hell." Galeano can be a softie, as when he gurgles over Mozart's effect on newborns (playing his music is "the best way of telling them, ‘This is your new home' "), but mostly, his tone is arch and indignant. The author is perhaps overly fond of the one-sentence paragraph ("Every two weeks, a language dies"), but the structure suits the urgency he conveys. As the book progresses, the order becomes ever more apparent, even as the brief essays skip over continents and centuries. Americans will note, but perhaps not appreciate, his fondness for soccer, rebellion of most varieties and sententious declaration ("In the Age of Almighty Computers, drones are the perfect warriors"). A cynic might say that it's more of the same-old preaching to the choir, but Galeano's many readers will surely find this secular calendar appealing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568587479
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 4/30/2013
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 378,702
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Eduardo Galeano is one of Latin America’s most distinguished writers. He is the author of the three-volume Memory of Fire; Open Veins of Latin America; Soccer in Sun and Shadow; The Book of Embraces; Walking Words; Upside Down; and Voices in Time. Born in Montevideo in 1940, he lived in exile in Argentina and Spain for years before returning to Uruguay. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages. He is recipient of many international prizes, including the first Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom, the Casa de las Américas Prize, and the First Distinguished Citizen of the region by the countries of Mercosur.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2013

    Powerful and beautiful.  A must-read.

    Powerful and beautiful.  A must-read.

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