-One Day of Life (by Manlio Argueta, translator Bill Brow, Random House, Nueva York, and Chatto & Windus, London).
Publisher Comments: 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 her chores. By 5: 00 P.M. the plot of the novel has been resolved, with the Civil Guard’s search for and interrogation of Lupe’s young granddaughter, Adolfina. Told entirely from the perspective of the resilient women of the Guardado family, One Day of Life is not only a disturbing and inspiring evocation of the harsh realities of peasant life in El Salvador after fifty years of military exploitation; it is also a mercilessly accurate dramatization of the relationship of the peasants to both the state and the church.
One Day of Life does that virtually no other volume or newspaper story has even begun to do. It renders the Salvadoran peasant visible”, (New Republic).
“One Day of Life evokes powerful images of a people and land most of us know only marginally”, (Christian Science Monitor)
-Little Red Riding Hood in the Red Light District (by Manlio Argueta, translator by Edward Waters Hood, Curbstone Press, Willimantic, Connecticut).
About this title: This award-winning novel revolves around the relationship between two young lovers in a time of political upheaval, evoking characters and themes from the classic fairy tale within the wartime environment of El Salvador. The red light district refers not only to sexual exploitation but also to the political violence Salvadorans suffered in the late seventies. Little red riding Hood in the Red Light District is Manlio Argueta`s portrays the aspirations of an entire generation (Publishers Weekly).
-A Place Called Milagro de la Paz (by Manlio Argueta, translator by Michael B. Miller, Curbstone Press, Willimantic, Connecticut, USA)
Argueta (Little Red Riding Hood in the Red Light District) is considered El Salvador’s greatest living writer, and this latest of his works to be translated into English will add to his reputation: it is a postmodernist tour de force. A disjointed literary puzzle –less so in this translation than in the original– the novel asks much of the reader, but the richly symbolic text offers many rewards. The form is clearly a metaphor for the political condition of El Salvador following the protracted civil war of the 1970s and ’80s that left a broken country whose citizens are still trying to restore their former way of life. Likewise, the family of women who live in the shadow of a volcano in the small village of Milagro de la Paz (Miracle of Peace) are attempting to piece their lives back together after the oldest daughter, Magdalena, is randomly killed by a wandering death squad. The youngest daughter tries to signify continuity by conceiving a child with a handyman in an almost-but-not-quite-immaculate conception. Into the village wanders Lluvia (Rain), an angelic orphan who eats roadside flowers and whose head seems to bear a halo of living butterflies. Under her springlike influence, hope is reborn in the family. To some extent, this novel counters the despair that is so overwhelming in some of Argueta’s earlier works, beginning with Un día en la vida (One Day of Life), yet the message is ambiguous: is Lluvia actually Magdalena reincarnated? Will the suffering created by human greed be replaced by the violence of the earth itself when the local volcano erupts? Miller’s fine translation of this powerful but elusive narrative is accompanied by a short glossary of the Spanish terms. (Publishers Weekly).
“Argueta`s novel of poet-rebels, brother-traitors and young women wandering in a forest of wolves is an invaluable memento of (El Salvador´s) exceptional past”. (Patrick Markee, New York Times Book Review)
-Magic Dogs of the Volcanoes (by Manlio Argueta, translator by Stacey Ross, Children´s Book, San Francisco, California). Spanish title: Los Cadejos
Synopsis: A contemporary folktale about magical dogs that live on the volcanoes of El Salvador and protect the people from many dangers. Bilingual in English and Spanish.
Annotation: When the magic dogs who live on the volcanoes of El Salvador and protect the villagers from harm are pursued by wicked lead soldiers, they are aided by two ancient volcanoes.
Children´s literature: This bilingual English/Spanish tale is based on Salvadoran folktales about the cadejos who put on “garments of air and light that make them invisible” and help protect people from harm. Simmons’s vibrant watercolor, gouache and colored pencil illustrations capture the magic of these folkloric creatures.
-Once Upon a Time (Bomb), (by Manlio Argueta, translator by Linda Craft, University Press of America, Lanham, Maryland). Spanish title: Siglo de O(g)ro.
Is a charming memoir of a young boy growing up in El Salvador. It tells the story of Alfonso Duque the Thirteenth, a youngster from poverty-stricken family and budding poet. Surrounded by hovering women –his mother, aunt, grand mothers, and sister- little Alfonso still manages to enjoy boyish pranks and endure scraped elbows, knees, and ego while also discovering the pleasures of reading. The women folk laughingly describe him on his “throne” atop the trees or back in the outhouse, where he often escapes to read. This work of innocence is set against a darker backdrop of the growing violence in the Salvadoran countryside and the news coming from the fronts of the Second World War.
Argueta incorporates many of h best-loved local folktales into the narrative, the Siguanaba, Chinchintora the Snake, Theodora the Coyote, some of them personalized or hilariously adapted by the women to fit their own circumstances. In the book, the author works through memory, re-encounters a nostalgic past, re-creates paradise, and re-acquaints himself with his poetic roots after years of exile from poetry, his homeland, and the luxury of dreaming
-Cuzcatlan Where the Southern Sea Beats (by Manlio Argueta, Vintage Books, Random House, New York, and Chatto & Windus, London, translator by Clark Hansen). Spanish title Cuzcatlan donde bate la Mar del Sur
Cuzcatlan (the aboriginal name of El Salvador) moves from 1036 to 1981 as it re-creates the history of a family, all the while dramatizing the folklore of the Salvadoran people, their relations to the land and nature, their near-feudal poverty, and their perseverance in the face of brutal military authority. In this masterwork, Manlio Argueta gives us a highly engaging and deeply affecting work of lottery imagination that forces us to empathize with a people whose political history is inextricably linked to our own.
San Salvador, mayo 23 de 2009