In a world where books categorized by genres, Eduardo Galeano certainly stands out as one author who has freed himself from the shackles and confines of genres and written some of the best books and essays regarding political and economical history of Latin Americas. His books can be more seen as poetic journals about true turmoil and difficult times seen by him and the people of the land. History becomes a narrated story and a sad poetry, thus blurring the genre lines between fiction, poetry and non-fiction.
Eduardo Galeano’s greatest experiment with writing has been the ‘collage’ work he created with words and drawings for ‘The Book of Embraces’. The book consists of nearly 200 one page compositions accompanied by his sketches, wood carvings and drawings. The book itself becomes a treasure not just because of the presentation but more for the subtle observations and thoughts of this one man who has seen political and emotional turmoil from closest quarters.
The lucid presentation, turn of speech, contradictions and dichotomies of life leave a long lasting impression. Every thinking soul can identify with the naked truth of human spirit. He gives human soul a true dark and subtle voice. He mocks at the political systems and its failings. Some passages smell of gun powder and war. Forgotten revolutionaries become immortalized in some passages. Mothers, lovers, lonely souls and longings have made some pages truly magical.
Being a caricaturist, journalist and a story teller at the same time is not difficult for Eduardo Galeano. The Book of Embraces expresses and embraces life through his drawing, passages and best of thoughts. One can never forget his sketch of hand with pair of wings. Neither his observations that in bureaucracy red tape is often cut length wise. Love and longing is expressed as, ‘There is a woman stuck between my eye lids’, while lovers ‘truly devour each other’ thus often erasing each other’s identity. A brave mother’s instinct gets it due when a mother doesn’t want to separate even her dead and reincarnated son from his friends.
Life is dark. History of some countries with dictatorial regimes is horrific. Hegemony of West almost strangles local cultures and distinct identities. Each individual is affected by it all. Yet the human spirit has the capacity to embrace the noir and make it one’s strength. Eduardo Galeano is truly committed to keep history and painful memories alive. His life mostly spent in exile has given him unique perspective of a sensitive affected observer. He almost makes it clear that forgetting painful past, negating or denying it is almost a crime. There is so much to be learnt from it.