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One Day Of Life by Manlio Argueta
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Jan 18, 09

bookshelves: fiction-mainstream
Read in January, 2009

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 in the morning at 5:30a.m. to prepare the coffee for her husband, we get some background on the living and working conditions of farm laborers; workers on the large plantations of coffee and cotton. They live hand to mouth and become used to a large percentage of their children dying very young from dysentary and other preventable diseases. They have no access to doctors, and couldn’t afford them if they did. Their lives are totally controlled by the authorities – government thugs who are also in the pay of the plantation owners and are trained by U.S. advisors in methods of repression in order to keep out Communists. The workers are apolitical; they only want to survive. As the day progresses, we learn that Jose has allied himself with other workers in the village and has become the target of the authorities. As the day progresses, things get worse and worse. This is a powerful book, but depressing, because the villagers have no choices and no means of defense. If you want to get a real feeling of everyday life in El Salvadore, this is a must-read. Recommended.
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