The final work of the esteemed Uruguayan journalist and social critic.
“Writing is tiring, but it consoles me.” These are among the last words written by Galeano (Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History, 2015, etc.). They’re from “A Few Things About the Author,” one of the more than 200 stories, ruminations, reflections, and proverbs, most just one short page, collected and published shortly before he died in 2015. Fried, his longtime translator, writes in a note that the author possessed a “habitual optimism about the human condition” and an “eternal pessimism about the course of civilization.” For legions of soccer fanatics around the world, Galeano was known for his magisterial Soccer in Sun and Shadow, about which he writes, “I wanted to help fans of reading lose their fear of soccer, and fans of soccer lose their fear of books.” For many others, he was known for his unrelenting and indefatigable leftist critiques of historical colonialism in the Americas, dictatorships, political evils, and social injustice “in the eternal battle of indignation against indignity.” These pieces, more rueful and reflective and less strident than his earlier writings, still reveal a man who will not sit by when he witnesses people “turning the world into an immense lunatic asylum and an overcrowded cemetery.” He skewers dictator Augusto Pinochet: the “man who burned the most books and read the fewest was the owner of the heftiest library in Chile.” For Francisco Franco, “killing was a pleasure and it mattered little if the cadaver was a crow, a duck, or a Republican.” Galeano could also be witty and humorous. When the stolen Mona Lisa turned up two years later in 1913, “it was evident that the experience had not diminished the most mysterious smile in the world; being stolen only enhanced its prestige.”
Although some of these pieces are on the thin side, this is a fitting final flourish for a literary giant of the Latin American left.