Two great lights go out at once

Today, the world lost two greats of literature. Uruguay lost this one:

…whose influence on my awareness of the issues of all of Latin America is tremendous, thanks to his Open Veins of Latin America and Days and Nights of Love and War.

Meanwhile, Germany lost this one:

…who seems very different from Eduardo Galeano on first glance, but not really. Both of them confronted similar devils in their work: war, fascism, human suffering, and the perversity of twisted minds, of worlds gone mad. While Galeano attacked real-life, pervasive, all-around-him horrors with poetic prose and parables and liberal lashings of memoir, Grass used surreal and grotesque fictive imagery to confront realities too ugly to be faced head-on, even by one who had lived them at an early age himself (Grass was 17 when World War II ended). And who had even been conscripted by their perpetrators — a fact he kept quiet for years, until he finally felt it safe to come clean about them.

Galeano is easy to love even when he’s breaking your heart; Grass is hard to read, but impossible to forget once you’ve retched your way through The Tin Drum. (Even harder if you’ve done it in German, as I have.) Galeano is someone you want to read and reread, even if it pains you; Grass is one you have to steel yourself to read even once, because what he wrote will burn you for life. But both are notable antifascists, and both great writers.

They will both be sorely missed around here.

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