Publisher: Aakar Books
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If any book can claim to be Eduardo Galeano’s biography, it would be this. Days and Nights of Love and War is a mixture of autobiography and social critique. It is a testimony to Galeano’s loyalty to his unique style of writing which marries fact and fiction even as it combines ferocious passion with kindness and sensitivity. Even as he writes of his early days as an exile from his country his focus remains on telling the tales of suffering that would otherwise have gone unheard in a regime of brutal repression.
The period that the book describes is that of the military regime in Uruguay in the 1970s. This was also the time when Galeano, his thoughts and writing perceived as a threat to the state, was a wanted man in the country of his birth and hence a forced exile in Argentina. Days and Nights records events from his life including his relationships with his friends, most of who were hunted and killed by the establishments in Uruguay and Argentina, his rendezvous with strange men and women, his battle with a debilitating bout of malaria and even his interaction with the locals and the native people. The purpose behind the book though is more than memoire writing. The book reveals the lengths to which the repressive regime went to subdue any independent thought or act. It hunted down free thinkers and made them disappear. Its power was insidious and it promoted an atmosphere of distrust. The point was to make people live in daily fear of their lives. The violence they faced was physical as well as mental. This is the picture that Galeano paints of his country and of Latin America in general. He also documents the stories of those individuals, friends and acquaintances, who refused to give in to the state’s repression and continued to promote free thought. The novel is an homage to the courage of these individuals.
Days and Nights is Galeano’s personal story and as well as a chronicle of his times. It is written in the form of vignettes, differing in length. The content varies from aphorisms, poetry, journalistic, newspaper reporting, travel writing, and interviews. While there is sorrow and anger in what he writes, he does not fail to capture the resilience of the people in a few humorous incidents. The novel is not a collection of sad stories but a true representation of the life of those hard times.