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One Day of Life

by Manlio Argueta Bill Brow

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. Translated from the Spanish by Bill Brow.

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