Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “One Day of Life” as Want to Read:
One Day of Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

One Day of Life

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  360 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Awesome for the authenticity of its vernacular style and the incandescence of its lyricism, One Day of Life depicts a typical day in the life of a peasant family caught up in the terror and corruption of civil war in El Salvador.

5:30 A.M. in Chalate, a small rural town: Lupe, the grandmother of the Guardado family and the central figure of the novel, is up and about doing
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 9th 1991 by Vintage (first published 1982)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about One Day of Life, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about One Day of Life

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 636)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
From the unassailable heights of the MORAL HIGH GROUND, the author manipulates the reader from the very first sentence. Though I have no doubt that atrocities were committed in El Salvador, it seems entirely probable that this happened on both sides, a complication that this book never even contemplates. I despise this kind of agitprop masquerading as literature, wherein the reader is manipulated to feel badly for not having the appropriate reaction to the author's button-pushing.

If you enjoy b
Daniel Klawitter
"Kindness should not be confused with submission."

I first read this book over 20 years ago, and in 1992 spent a couple weeks in El Salvador right as the FMLN had negotiated a cease-fire with the government.

Re-reading the book now, in 2014, brought back many memories of meeting campesinos in the countryside and seeing the affection of the people everywhere for the assassinated Archbishop Romero.

This is a wonderful novel filled with poetic prose and the author captures the dignity and humanity
Antes de leer este libro era raro que leyera algo escrito por los autores de mi tierra y es algo de lo que profundamente me lamento. Un dia en la vida es el vivo retrato de la vida de una mujer en los tiempos de guerra en El Salvador. Cuando la injusticia por parte del gobierno estaba a la orden del dia. Donde los ricos se enriquecian mas y mas a costa de los pobres y donde el estado ignoraba la sed de justicia por parte de las victimas. Es un relato que te abre los ojos. Donde te das cuenta de ...more
Karlo Mikhail
El Salvador in the 1980s. Written in the simple and direct language of the ordinary people, this powerful novel describes one day in the life of a peasant family that is at once oppressed by the US-sponsored military dictatorship and ready to resist these very forces that have kept them in the dark.
Alfonso Ayón
El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha. Capítulo III, parte II: hay algunos que así componen y arrojan libros de sí como si fuesen buñuelos
—No hay libro tan malo —dijo el bachiller—, que no tenga algo bueno.
—No hay duda en eso —replicó don Quijote—…

Siempre resiento que no hayan medias estrellas en Good Reads, nota verdadera 2.7 de 5.
Mi hora favorita las 4:00 p.m. de ese día en la vida.

La narrativa es un poco fragmentada y, según mi criterio, es costumbrista. ¿vale la pena leerlo? sí
One Day of Life
Manlio Argueta
Reviewed by: Adrianna Frazier
6 October 2009

The book that I read and am now reviewing is One Day of Life. This book takes places in El Salvador during the El Salvadorian Civil War. During this time it shows the oppressive environment created by the authorities who invaded a small village. The atmosphere is very chaotic and is enveloped in a cloud of fear. The novel is set up in chapters that are specific times. The entire book takes place in one day which begins at 5
Alexndra Chenelle
One Day Of Life

Manlio Argueta

Reviewed by Alexandra Chenelle

Word Count: 570

War is difficult; there are many sides to it, many stories to tell, and more to it than just the physical battles. This concept is expressed very deeply and descriptively in Manilo Argueta’s novel One Day of Life. The book illustrates one day of a brutal civil war in El Salvador, told from many perspectives from innocent bystanders, to direct victims, to the ones causing all the violence. Organized by time, the book begi
Mia Goros
Nov 30, 2009 Mia Goros rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Advanced readers
Recommended to Mia by: Teacher
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 06, 2013 Ana rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in Latin American Wars.
Recommended to Ana by: My Professor
I had to read this book for one of my classes. One Day of Life is about the Salvadorian Civil War. Before reading it I knew very little about the Salvadorian civil war, so reading the book was very educational. It takes place in one day and has one main voice;however, occasionally other narratives have their say.

Guadalupe or "Lupe" is the main character of the novel. She is a forty-five year old peasant woman from Chalatenango. She lives with her husband and her three little children. She is al
Michaela Larsen
Though I usually don't re-read books, I would maybe like to go back and read this book in the Spanish someday. I enjoyed it in English, however, I felt I was missing out on something--the lyricism and poetic word choice would, I think, be even better in Spanish.

I thought this book was very interesting and informative--it gives an accurate-feeling sense of the worldview of the primary characters in the book who represent the farm workers under the oppressive government rule in El Salvador in the
Argueta, Manlio. ONE DAY OF LIFE. (1980; U.S. 1983). ****. The author, primarily known as a poet in his country of El Salvador, is known in this country for this novel. It is a powerful novel focused on the repression of the common people by “the Authorities.” The writer was forced into exile by his government as a result of this book. The story takes place all in one day, and is told, primarily, by Lupe, the wife of Jose. They and their children are farm laborers in a small town. As Lupe rises ...more
Tom Darrow
This book was awful. The plot was very disorganized, the characters were flat and had no life and the author's writing style was confusing and amateurish. This is a story of a peasant family in El Salvador and their conflict with the "authorities" who kidnap and murder anyone who resists the government or complains about the situation. The book tells some of the back story of the conflict, and there is a little glimmer of hope that this book won't be a train wreck, but the characters end of leav ...more
I just finished re-reading this book, and the second read made me realize how horrors -- especially political and violent -- are a usual part of our fictional (whether in books or in film/television) lives, and though somewhat distressing, they don't usually affect me very much. Understanding that this story -- not just one like it -- is almost entirely true gave this read a very different feel.

Here's my original review:

This book was part of the recommended reading in preparation for my trip to
Sep 02, 2010 Giuseppe rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historians, activists, the-strong-willed
This book with its lyrical, raw, angry and jubilant writing style follows the extended family and community of an El Salvadorian town which has been repressed by the state and helped by the church during El Salvador's brutal civil war, made famous by figures such as Archbishop Romero.

In the story the peasants of El Salvador have organized into the National Federation of Christian Cooperatives (F.N.C.C.) and in doing so they have become regularly terrorized by the Salvadorian National Guard who
I should make a Revolutionary Books bookshelf. This book is one of a handful that have been outright banned by their governments. El Salvidor exiled this author for his pro-democracy (author bio) and/or communistic (government) propaganda. There's certainly plenty here to seem a little over-the-top: the perfectly noble young girl negotiating cathedral occupations, anti- bank demonstrates and unspeakable violence; the noble older peasant woman seeking meaning in the cruel exploitation of church a ...more
Mark Field
Though dated it was still a good read about thE revolutionary period of the 1980s in El Salvador. very critical of the influence of the Catholic Church in the region and it's controlling influence over the population.
A fiction book about what life was like for "campesinos" or peasants in the lead up to the Salvadoran Civil War. Told through the eyes of 45 year old Guadalupe, who struggles with her household work while her husband is forced to flee to the hills from the violence-prone authorities. Also, her 15-year old grand daughter is being pursued by the same authorities when she too becomes involved in grassroots efforts to support the campesinos. This book is both an account of Guadalupe´s personal growt ...more
Sad, violent depiction of political and military corruption against the poor in El Salvador. Uncertain of when this takes place, but I would guess 50's or '70s. Follows one family's devastating losses, due to Christian allegiance, and attempts to seek relief for agricultural aid. Definitely told from one perspective, and I heard this criticized in a review; but where are we, if we can't speak from our own perspective of what occurs in our world? Beautifully written(there were portions I read alo ...more
Jul 17, 2012 Efox rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
I read this book for the first time in college - either for the revolutions or latin america history class. The author does a fantastic job of describing the point of view of some extremely brave women who are dealing with the complex interplay between the church, authorities and landowners, and their own class's social enlightenment. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history, central american politics or spanish literature. I honestly wish I could have read t ...more
Nick Marsellas
In One Day of Life, Argueta shows Western readers a new take on Christianity. It no longer carries the hundreds of years of Western tradition and dominance; it's a completely new, Latin American, communistic Christianity. This is one of the rare occasions in postcolonial literature where the Christian religion is shown as the hero. Christian revolutionaries take the true essence of New Testament teachings, and apply them to the oppressive conditions in El Salvador. A true testament to the "feel" ...more
A moving novel based on the events that took place during 1 day in the life of a peasant salvadoran woman; it depicts the human tragic story of salvadoran or rather Central American life in the 1980's. a must read for every Latin American or anyone interested in feeling and sharing the pain of our sad history in Latin America. I just read somewhere that this book was placed 5th among the most recognized books written in Spanish in this century. Well done Manlio!
it's crazy to read this - in the 80s i would be in el salvador and even though i knew certain things - such as never go out at night, never look at the guerilleros and police directly, or talk back when they started saying something to you... it's crazy to read anothers perspective of what was going on in those times. someone that really lived it day by day
Michelle Lemaster
Through a fictionalized account, this book chronicles the soical activism of the poor in Central America. A true call to arms. Beautifully told. Horrific in its depictions of a real life wartorn country.
Oct 21, 2008 Kristen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kristen by: my brother
A powerful book that represents an ordinary day for a peasant family in the 70s / early 80s in El Salvador. As I read it I couldn't even imagine living under that kind of constant fear and oppression and found it difficult to stomach the extent of the US' and churches' involvement.

I'd like to re-read this book someday.
A simple story, a simple style. Poignant and charming, even though the events recounted are harrowing. In spite of them, there are moments of humor, just as there is in real life. A short read, books like this are books that people in this country might try reading, to ¨walk a mile in the other´s shoes¨.
By far this is one of my favorite books of all time. The story describes one day in the life of a Central American women who has to endure the hardships of life in poverty. Reading history of Central American this book captures many historical moments through the eyes of someone living through it.
Excellent writing by this Salvadoran author! He beautifully portays the campesino life during the war, in a style that honestly made me feel like I was back in El Salvador. Beautifully done, and I am learning more Salvadoran Spanish!
May 20, 2011 Mason added it
A heart-wrenching, realisitc account of the origins of the Salvadoran Civil War. Argueta utilizes multiple voices within the same family to show how each generation of women coped with the horror and violence of the secret police.
It makes more sense if you know what was happening in El Salvador at the time. I read half of it, didn't enjoy it, went to class, learned about what was happening in El Salvador throughout the twentieth century, and enjoyed the last half.
It was a bit confusing for the first half of the story, but once you reach the end everything falls into place, and you're blown away at how the author was able to craft such a fantastic story using such a strange style of writing.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 21 22 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Don't Be Afraid, Gringo
  • I, the Supreme
  • Bitter Grounds
  • Lo que está en mi corazón
  • The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War
  • Afterlands
  • Las Películas de Mi Vida
  • Home is the Sailor
  • The Dark Bride
  • Reading the Ceiling
  • Plata quemada
  • Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America
  • The Rabbits' Wedding
  • El astillero
  • The Book of Lamentations
  • Stories I Stole
  • The Winter War
  • The Massacre at El Mozote
Argueta was born in San Miguel (El Salvador) on November 24, 1935. Argueta has stated that his exposure to “poetic sounds” began during his childhood and that his foundation in poetry stemmed from his childhood imagination. Argueta’s interest in literature was strongly influenced by the world literature he read as a teenager. Argueta began his writing career by the age of 13 as a poet. He cites Pa ...more
More about Manlio Argueta...
Cuzcatlan Where the Southern Sea Beats Magic Dogs of the Volcanoes/Los perros magicos de los volcanos Little Red Riding Hood in the Red Light District A Place Called Milagro de la Paz Los Poetas del Mal

Share This Book

“No one forgets his pain, that’s a lie. It’s buried there in memory and remains in you forever.” 3 likes
“If I’m called on to shed my blood, it doesn't matter because it's for the good of everyone else.” 1 likes
More quotes…