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About The Book of Embraces

Sandra Cisneros, in her introduction to the 2000 edition of Eduardo Galeano's Days and Nights of Love and War, writes, "I believe that certain people, events, and books come to you when they must, at their precise moment in history." For me, The Book of Embraces, in its Spanish version, El libro de los abrazos, arrived as a gift from my Uruguayan brother- and sister-in-law. My wife told me that it was a well known and beloved book by the most famous of contemporary Uruguayan authors. I flipped through its pages and was ecstatic to find pictures and short fragments. I had been experimenting with fragments in my own writing. Even before I read a word of the book, I felt like I had found a soul brother or a mentor.

Soon after that, I was talking on the phone to Dr. David Lazar, my dissertation advisor and an exceptional professor of nonfiction creative writing. I was sitting by my computer and was toying with El libro de los abrazos in my lap, looking at the pictures while I talked. He asked, with no information from my end, if I had ever read Eduardo Galeano. He knew I had lived in Uruguay, and went on to mention that Galeano was a Uruguayan writer of creative nonfiction. I laughed. "What book?" I asked. "The Book of Embraces. It's a fantastic book. I used to teach from it all the time," he said. I laughed again. "I have the book on my lap," I told him, explaining. He laughed along with me.

The Book of Embraces is a quick deep cutting healing sweet shouting whispering assaulting bothering comforting book. It is made of short fragments, stories and musings and graffitis and sayings and dreams and lies and truths, and juxtapositional etchings of ironic commentary. Galeano wants to say something like we need each other, we need to wake up, we need to change, we need more love, we need embraces. His words are powerful evocations. Galeano's writing is politically charged and poetically balanced to give more meaning, more thought, ounce per ounce, letter per letter, than most anything I've ever read. This writing is sharp, it's beautiful, it's fabulous in the many senses of that word.

Eduardo Galeano has become a sort of mentor for me. I can feel his influence in my thoughts and my writings. Even if we disagree on some things. In December of 2000, I interviewed Galeano in Café Brasilero, Montevideo's oldest café (est. 1879). I found him to be gracious, witty, and wise. This interview will be published in the Fall 2001 issue of Fourth Genre, a literary journal devoted to literary nonfiction (look for it at your local university library). This man has, in some ways, changed my life. And it all comes back to that first book I read. The Book of Embraces is, for me, like scripture. It contains holy words.

— Patrick Madden

Buy The Book of Embraces or other books by Eduardo Galeano

Click on the book covers below and you'll be taken to pages where you can purchase each individual book. You may also want to try,,,, or, all used book sites (or databases) which ought to have used copies of many of these books as well. If you are looking for the books in Spanish, some of the above sites may have copies, or you could try What's important is that you actually buy some of Galeano's books.

Note that the books below are in chronological order by date of publication (except for The Book of Embraces), and represent only those works currently in print in English. Galeano has many other books as well.

cover The Book of Embraces (1991) Parable, paradox, anecdote, dream, and autobiography blend into Galeno's exuberant world view and affirmation of human possibility.
cover Upside Down (2000) An eloquent, passionate, funny, and shocking expose of our first world priviledges and assumptions.
 cover Soccer in Sun and Shadow (1997) A quick snapshot of the highlights and lowlights of this very popular international sport.
cover Walking Words (1995) In this retelling of Latin American folklore, Galeano depicts the various and delicious ironies of life at the end of this century.
 cover We Say No (1993) 34 pieces covering 30 years affirming the struggle of the forgotten and dispossessed for human dignity.
 cover Memory of Fire III: Century of the Wind (1989) Offers Galeano’s interpretations of the 20th century, from the bucolic New Jersey laboratory of Thomas Edison to the armies of Emiliano Zapata and Fidel Castro.
 cover Memory of Fire II: Faces and Masks (1987) The tangled, cataclysmic history of our hemisphere from the 1700s up to the dawn of our present century, told through characters as resonant and compelling as Simon Bolivar, Toussaint L’Ouverture, and Billy the Kid.

Memory of Fire I: Genesis (1985) A meditation on the clashes between Old World and the New, and, in Galeano’s words, and attempt to "rescue the kidnapped memory of all America." A fierce, impassioned, and kaleidoscopic historical experience that takes us from the creation myths of Makiritare Indians of the Yucatan to Columbus’ first, joyous moment in the new World.

 cover Days and Nights of Love and War (1979) Galeano records the lives and struggles of the Latin American people under two decades of unimaginable violence and extreme repression.
 cover Open Veins of Latin America (1973) Galeano covers five centuries of the pillage of the Latin American continent.

Descriptions of books from