Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Death of two literary giants: Eduardo Galeano and Günther Grass

In the very same day, yesterday April 13th, two of the greatest writers of our time left us. 

Eduardo Galeano (Montevideo, 1940) is arguably the greatest author in Spanish language in the second half of the 20th century. His masterpiece Open Veins of Latin America[full PDF text at e-reading club] is a must read, so "must" that Hugo Chávez gifted it to Barack Obama in 2009. It is not just a literary masterpiece but also a most valuable history work, quite comparable to Zinn's A People's History of the United States but surely better in its truly amazing literary quality.

It begins this way:

The division of labor among nations is that some specialize in winning and others in losing. Our part of the world, known today as Latin America, was precocious: it has specialized in losing ever since those remote times when Renaissance Europeans ventured across the ocean and buried their teeth in the throats of the Indian civilizations.

Update (Apr 20th): 10 Galeano books freely available online in Spanish (BGD).

Günther Grass (Danzig/Gdansk, 1927) was certainly less radical initially (he was for long an SPD member) but his work is nevertheless very enjoyable. However he did evolve towards more determined positions in the anti-war movement of the 1980s and was hostile to reunification of Germany in 1991, fearing that it could only lead to a renewed German imperialism, which he opposed.

In 2012 he published the poem What must be said, against the German military support of the Zionist terrorist state and its overly dangerous nuclear capacity.

His most famous work is The Tin Drum. He got the Nobel Prize in 1999.


  1. You might be surprised to learn that Soccer in Sun and Shadow is probably Galeano's most read work in the USA, since you are not much of a futbol fan. (I have read it and Upside Down). After the 2010 World Cup soccer bloggers here began to mention it and praise it in glowing terms. The US soccer blogs or twitter feeds that I follow all mentioned his passing. So you just never know how people encounter new ideas.

    1. Absolutely surprised but curious to know. :)


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