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The Book of Embraces

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  7,141 ratings  ·  797 reviews
Parable, paradox, anecdote, dream, and autobiography blend into an exuberant world view and affirmation of human possibility.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 17th 1992 by W.W. Norton & Company (first published 1989)
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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 ·  7,141 ratings  ·  797 reviews

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Glenn Russell
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE - In light of our current crisis, many embraces are needed. Of course, as we all recognize, social distancing prevents our physical embraces but now is the time for a mental embrace of our entire human family.

Eduardo Galeano of Uruguay (1940-2015) is one of the finest of the Latin American writers. If you would like to add a healthy dose of inspiration and magic in your life, pick up The Book of Embraces, a collection of over 200 poetic memoirs/stories/happenings complete wit
In a way, I find Galeano's work like Kurt Vonnegut's in that both write in a manner that comes across as deceptively simple, quick & easy to read, but then you realize that it's so tightly edited, so finely tuned, that just a few words are as accurate & as powerful as a bullet between the eyes. Galeano's wide net of musings range from friendships, to art, to dreams, to politics, to society, to heartbreaking realities of poverty, racism, war, & violence. As with many Latin American writers, there ...more
Bowie Rowan
Just as amazing, if not more so, than I expected from all the recommendations I received to read this book. Galeano is one of those writers that makes me feel like anything is possible -- write what you like, what helps you tell the most truthful version of what you want to tell, and don't care about any of the rules. ...more
Book Riot Community
Accompanied by Galeano’s illustrations, the series of vignettes use fable, historical anecdotes, and dreamy ruminations to explore abstractions so broad they seem impossible to hold in our heads. That is until Galeano represents them (issues like “Hunger” and “The Limits of Art”) in a moment, image, or sentence with striking clarity. In “Prophecies/2,” Galeano writes, “Helena dreamed about the keepers of the fire. The poorest old women had stored it away in suburban kitchens and had only to blow ...more
May 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Laura by: Peter Boss
This is a startling simple little book of vignettes about a range of subjects. The writing is very poetic and sometimes unexpectedly poignant. The kind of thing where you start a chapter about some commonplace thing and find yourself a little choked up by the end of it. Well written and one of the few books I often recommend that I would call uplifting.
Galeano is one of the most original writers I've had the pleasure to stumble upon. Every vignette is a small revelation. ...more
I thank the person who recommended this to me and, when I forgot about it, recommended it to me again. I loved this book. It’s a collection of very short reflections that approach prose poetry: memories, dreams, and musings by an author I’d never heard of. Galeano is obviously well known at least in South America. He’s exiled to Barcelona for many years for political reasons I don’t pretend to understand, but returns to Uruguay near the end of his life. My ignorance of the circumstances and his ...more
I chose to read Eduardo Galeano's wonderful short stories and thoughts on a recent eight hour flight. A perfect choice! It is written in an unusually free manner, on separate pages with surreal sketches. I must have shown my enthusiasm somewhat, as one of the attendants came up to me and commented on how much she had enjoyed his work too! Brilliant comparisons, serious thoughts, a great sense of humor and a celebration of his life is found in an inspiring choice of words.
I was surprised to find
Jenny Jaeckel
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Exile, and the end of exile, on many levels, is a central theme in The Book of Embraces, a work composed of intimate vignettes from the life of the author and the lives of many people whose stories he renders with the equal intimacy and awe. The stories may be equal parts beautiful and painful, illuminating moments that are ordinary or magical, violent or tender, humorous or tragic, but woven together so that none of the qualities can be separated from the others. It is exile, and the end of exi ...more
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in the hallways of the Miami Dada public library around 1993 when "The System" and "The Culture of Terror" were meant to be the end of history. I have carried it with me sever since. ...more
Ana Bernardino
Apr 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
It’s my first time reading Galeano and it was an wonderful experience. The book is Half auto biographical, half stories and tales of people and places he met. For me the, the highlight is how Galeano masterfully writes the stories as if we are reading tales, with a mysticism typical of Latin American authors.
Perrin Ireland
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: winter-19-20
Highly recommend
Oct 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a book of little political/personal/regional stories (actually they feel more like prose poems) side-by-side with these crazy recurring and transmuting illustrations that kind of make their own visual stories (I like the one of a cow looking up at some insects that are actually tiny helicopters & planes) about life and culture in the Americas. The titles vary from The Function of Art to The Culture of Terror to The Air and the Wind. You can just pick it up and read one or two of them and ...more
Jeroen D'hoop
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The air and the wind

'Like San Fernando's little ass, I travel the roads partly on foot, just walking.
Sometimes I recognize myself in others. I recognize myself in those who will endure, friends who will shelter me, beautiful holy fools of justice and flying creatures of beauty and other bums and vagrants who walk the earth and will continue walking, just as the stars will continue in the night and the waves in the sea. Then, when I recognize myself in them, I am the air, coming to know myself a
Terri Kempton
Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Not only is this one of my all-time favorite books (filled with essays on life, love, oppression, politics, dreams, torture, survival, theology, and freedom) but it also has fascinating pen and ink drawings - a part of which is my new tattoo. A volume to read and reread constantly!
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Galeano is a pure genius! The passages in this book are incredibly meaningful, and can be related to life today. His poetic way with words drew me in instantly. This was definitely a great book to start off my AP English class this year!
Patience Blythe
Jun 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book reminds me of something. Maybe it is poems, or strange short stories read as a child. It makes me smile a lot. It makes me think about walking down dusty streets in magical places.
This book gives me hope.
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 4.5

Beautiful and haunting. The minuets of Galeano's own life are good, but I think he is even better at capturing the tragic beauty of others. There is so much truth and so much heartache.
Ghada Muthana
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-with-hubby
This is masochist : painful enjoyment!
I can see myself re reading this very soon.
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moving collection of short stories set all across the Americas. The stories start out more abstract but slowly move towards more identifiable moments and anecdotes, until by the end they take a surprising turn into the intimate details of the life of Galeano and his friends and family. I've never read a book that involves such a subtle transition from an anonymous narrator to a partner in a dialogue -- by the end Galeano feels like an old friend, with nothing held back, the layers of artifice st ...more
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, vignettes
"...there was nothing bad and nothing odd about the fact that my heart had broken from so much use."
— Resurrection/1

"I recognize myself in those who will endure..."
— The Air And The Wind

The Book of Embraces is a collection of vignettes, celebrating the human voice and silence, that remained triumphant throughout the nervous history of the world in the clutches of evil.

It's a hauntingly beautiful piece of work.

Since the theme throughout the book is exile, it is mostly intense, especially th
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The blurb perfectly summarises this book: ‘Parable, paradox, anecdote, dream and autobiography blend into an exuberant world view and affirmation of human possibility.’

The embraces as referred to in the title are contact with the lives and stories of humanity; Galeano shares regurgitated (for want of a better word, reproduced?) tales from his travels, research and friendships, visceral fragments of life presented in short, barely more than a page, snippets of prose. They are like a cross between
Nov 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: translation
"I write for those who cannot read me: the downtrodden, the ones who have been waiting on line for centuries to get into history, who cannot read a book or afford to buy one."
Eduardo Galeano is a Uruguayan journalist whose works tread the border between poetry and historical narrative. The Book of Embraces is composed of nearly two hundred vignettes, brief anecdotes an entire universe unto themselves.
The breathtaking scope of Galeano's writing is unrivaled: he skillfully muses upon art, hist
Christy Baker
A highly mixed blend of brief historical stories of the wars and atrocities and dictators in various Central and South American countries, bits of dream fragments, lyrical, almost poetic phrases, fable or wisdom teaching stories...a hard book to describe. I would find a few concepts that would please my ear or make me pause to reflect awhile on a lovely metaphor of wine and grapes and life and then find a stark contrast on the next page of an account of torture and execution of an artist followe ...more
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“Each person shines with his or her own light. No two flames are alike. There are big flames and little flames, flames of every color. Some people’s flames are so still they don’t even flicker in the wind, while others have wild flames that fill the air with sparks. Some foolish flames neither burn nor shed light, but others blaze with life so fiercely that you can’t look at them without blinking, and if you approach you shine in the fire.”
Nov 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how reading this book in English would be like. I read it in Spanish and it's, dare I say, beautiful. I hesitate to use those kinds of adjectives in my everyday life, but here... well, it applies. The really really short story format (some are even like tiny poems) allowed me to go through it even with the burden of school finals upon me, as I could go back without feeling like I've missed/forgotten something. Recommended (and a lot), pero en español. ...more
Nov 07, 2012 rated it liked it
I read this for a creative writing class. It was difficult to determine how to read it because of the unique style, but after listening to a lecture by him I wish I would have read it more slowly. I enjoy the unique writing style, after trying it myself for the class I appreciate his talent. This book is wonderful in the way it is part reporting, part creative non-fiction with personal accounts. If I could read Spanish it would probably be a more enjoyable read as this is a translation.
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Cedric Belfrage, who translated this book from the Spanish, appears as a character in it, and the book is dedicated to him. The couple of hundred chapters are flash fictions or prose poems that use the techniques of magical realism in an autobiography. If you loved Galeano's Memorias del Fuego trilogy (as I do), my guess is that you'll also love this slighter work. I use the comparative adjective advisedly, as Galeano's lesser work would be almost any other writer's masterpiece. ...more
Cristiano Dalbem
Some of its stories and quotes are among my favorite in literature. Still, most of the book was really hard to connect to since the characters and history behind the passages were unknown to me. Probably I'm more guilty here than the author, and I'm admitably not a connaisseur of Latin America history. Still, I'd like to have had a more relatable experience with such a book that didn't seem to need so much background knowledge to appreciate its sensitivity and clever beauty. ...more
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مقاطع من الكتاب 1 60 Nov 10, 2009 09:28PM  

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Eduardo Galeano was a Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist. His best known works are Memoria del fuego (Memory of Fire Trilogy, 1986) and Las venas abiertas de América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America, 1971) which have been translated into twenty languages and transcend orthodox genres: combining fiction, journalism, political analysis, and history.

The author himself has proclaimed his ob

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