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About Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Galeano is the author of The Book of Embraces, the book on which this site is based.

After spending his adolescence drawing political cartoons in El Sol and Marcha, Uruguayan socialist newspapers, Eduardo Galeano turned, somewhat disappointed, to writing. He began as a journalist in Montevideo and was editor-in-chief of both Marcha and Epoca there. His first book-length works were fiction, but he soon found his energies driven to tell the true stories of those whose stories were rarely told: the marginalized and the oppressed. He has, since 1967, written over twenty books of variously sub-genred nonfiction, over half of which have been translated into English. His most recognizable work includes 1971’s The Open Veins of Latin America, which Isabel Allende, "devoured in two days with such emotion that [she] had to read it again a couple more times to absorb all its meaning"; Days and Nights of Love and War; The Book of Embraces; and a trilogy, Memory of Fire, which won the American Book Award in 1989. His writing has also been awarded with the Dutch Aloa prize, Uruguay’s Ministry of Culture award, and Cuba’s Casa de las Americas prize twice. In 1999 he was given the first ever Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom. His articles appear regularly in The Nation, and his short fragments of nonfiction stories can often be found in Grand Street or Mother Jones. His most recent book, Upside Down, has been called both "agitprop" and "electric and exhortative."

He was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1940, the grandson of a Welsh immigrant whose family name, Hughes, was so difficult to explain that the young Galeano signed his drawings Gius (a phonetic approximation in Spanish) until he dropped the name in favor of his mother’s maiden name, Galeano. His teenage years were shaped by the stirrings of conflict in his native land and in Latin American in general. In 1973, when a right-wing military coup usurped power in Uruguay, Galeano went into self-imposed exile, first in Argentina, then in Spain. He returned to Uruguay in 1985. In his writing he has dealt sparingly with is own life experiences, preferring instead to focus on the stories of others. He says, "I’m a curious man, always devouring other people, their voices, their secrets, their stories, their colors. I’m stealing their words; maybe I should be arrested." He has cultivated a fragmentary aphoristic style reminiscent of great essayists such as Simone Weil, Teodor Adorno, and Walter Benjamin. His style is transparently simple, very poetic, and very dense with meaning, and all of his recent books are illustrated with etchings or silhouetted figures. His writing has been described as "fable, fairy tale, myth, poem, diary, journal, parable, paradox, anecdote, dream." Sandra Cisneros calls Galeano "the man I consider my teacher." John Leonard calls him "a dangerous radical storyteller. Alan Ryan says, "Galeano goes out on the tightrope and then levitates in the air above it."

We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to Eduardo Galeano for giving us so much to think, talk, and write about. Also, for allowing the creation of this Web site, which is part extrapolation from his book and part homage to him.

note: photgraphs on this page are from the Mexican newspaper La Jornada: