Eduardo Galeano turns 70: The dry grass will set fire to the damp grass

Today the great Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano turns 70. Politics aside — Galeano is a famous Leftist — 2012 has been a good year for Galeano, as his beloved Uruguayan soccer team was a surprise semifinalist in this year’s World Cup.

To mark this milestone birthday you can (if you read Spanish) follow Galeano on Twitter ( and Facebook (

Better yet do yourself a favor and pick up one of his books. Galeano’s uniquely panoramic prose style quickly draws you in, and his humor, engagement with the world, and strong sense of justice both entertain and edify.

Per Tony Karon’s recent suggestion you could start with SOCCER IN SUN AND SHADOW, Galeano’s highly personal history of “the beautiful game,” or you can try THE BOOK OF EMBRACES, the writer’s collage-like remembrances of his remarkable life.

Galeano’s greatest work, however, remains his epic, genre-defying MEMORY OF FIRE trilogy, an anecdotal history of the Americas, told in large part from the point of view of figures (indigenous people, slaves, slum-dwellers, and defeated revolutionaries) to whom traditional history does not typically give proper voice.

GENESIS and FACES AND MASKS, the first two volumes, take you from American pre-history up to 1900, and the work concludes with CENTURY OF THE WIND, a blistering account of the “American Century” in all its horror, absurdity, and triumph. Truly a tour de force, and a page-turner as well.

The title of this post is taken from the dedication to GENESIS, the first volume of MEMORY OF FIRE, which per Galeano is “an African proverb brought to the Americas by slaves.”

“Dry grass,” one might infer, is also how Galeano sees the work of the writer.

Toby Bryce is a co-founder of ReadThis.

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