THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A RUNAWAY SLAVE by Esteban Montejo
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THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A RUNAWAY SLAVE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Perhaps a sequel to Ishi? The informant, Esteban Montejo, is a 108-year-old Cuban Negro who lived through slavery in Cuba, its abolition, the war against Spain for independence, and who now awaits the next battle for freedom. His voice is heard recounting his own history (also the history of Cuba) but behind his voice is that of a skilled ethnographer. For Miguel Barnet, the Cuban anthropologist and distinguished poet, took two years to tape, edit, and direct Montejo's memoirs. Like Theodora Krocher's account of Ishi (1961), the book provides a readable, utterly candid description of a culture seen through the experiences of one man. Montejo describes sex, daily life, games, witchcraft, slavery, war. Particularly important are the ten years he spent alone in the forest leading the ""half-wild existence of a runaway"" slave. But before that and after-when he fought the Spaniards with a machete he was rebellious, opinionated, observant. Characterizing his own life style, Montejo says, ""I was a runaway from birth."" The book is superb ethnography--informative and compelling, ""anti-romantic"" and ""anti-ideological,"" that is, honest.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1968
Publisher: Pantheon