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The Book of Emma Reyes: A Memoir
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"Startling and astringently poetic." —The New York TimesA literary discovery: an extraordinary account, in the tradition of The House on Mango Street and Angela's Ashes, of a Colombian woman's harrowing childhood This astonishing memoir was hailed as an instant classic when first published in Colombia in 2012, nearly a decade after the death of its author, who was encouraged in her writing by Gabriel García Márquez. Comprised of letters written over the course of thirty years, and translated and introduced by acclaimed writer Daniel Alarcón, it describes in vivid, painterly detail the remarkable courage and limitless imagination of a young girl growing up with nothing. Emma Reyes was an illegitimate child, raised in a windowless room in Bogotá with no water or toilet and only ingenuity to keep her and her sister alive. Abandoned by their mother, she and her sister moved to a Catholic convent housing 150 orphan girls, where they washed pots, ironed and mended laundry, scrubbed floors, cleaned bathrooms, sewed garments and decorative cloths for the nuns—and lived in fear of the Devil. Illiterate and knowing nothing of the outside world, Emma escaped at age nineteen, eventually establishing a career as an artist and befriending the likes of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera as well as European artists and intellectuals. The portrait of her childhood that emerges from this clear-eyed account inspires awe at the stunning early life of a gifted writer whose talent remained hidden for far too long. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,800 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
08/08/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781101992098
ASIN:
B01N40FL3W
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Emma Reyes. (2017). The Book of Emma Reyes: A Memoir. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Emma Reyes. 2017. The Book of Emma Reyes: A Memoir. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Emma Reyes, The Book of Emma Reyes: A Memoir. Penguin Publishing Group, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Emma Reyes. The Book of Emma Reyes: A Memoir. Penguin Publishing Group, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Updated:
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title
The Book of Emma Reyes
fullDescription
"Startling and astringently poetic." —The New York Times
A literary discovery: an extraordinary account, in the tradition of The House on Mango Street and Angela's Ashes, of a Colombian woman's harrowing childhood

This astonishing memoir was hailed as an instant classic when first published in Colombia in 2012, nearly a decade after the death of its author, who was encouraged in her writing by Gabriel García Márquez. Comprised of letters written over the course of thirty years, and translated and introduced by acclaimed writer Daniel Alarcón, it describes in vivid, painterly detail the remarkable courage and limitless imagination of a young girl growing up with nothing.

Emma Reyes was an illegitimate child, raised in a windowless room in Bogotá with no water or toilet and only ingenuity to keep her and her sister alive. Abandoned by their mother, she and her sister moved to a Catholic convent housing 150 orphan girls, where they washed pots, ironed and mended laundry, scrubbed floors, cleaned bathrooms, sewed garments and decorative cloths for the nuns—and lived in fear of the Devil. Illiterate and knowing nothing of the outside world, Emma escaped at age nineteen, eventually establishing a career as an artist and befriending the likes of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera as well as European artists and intellectuals. The portrait of her childhood that emerges from this clear-eyed account inspires awe at the stunning early life of a gifted writer whose talent remained hidden for far too long.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,800 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        June 1, 2017
        An artist's epistolary girlhood memoir of abandonment, poverty, and survival.The very existence of this book, notes Alarcon in his introduction, is remarkable--perhaps more so than what is in it. As a Colombian native who established herself as a painter in Europe, Reyes didn't know how to read or write when most of the events occurred. She never knew her father and didn't know her mother was her mother. One day, a boy "asked me if I had a dad and a mom, and I asked him what those were, and he said he didn't know either." Reyes spent much of her early life locked in rooms, watched by no one, even taking care of the infant son born to the woman she didn't know was her mother--until the woman abandoned that boy when the author was 4: "That day remains, without a doubt, the cruelest of my life." Reyes and her sister would soon be next, reluctantly taken in by a convent, where they were continually questioned about their lineage; if they had been born in sin, they couldn't be baptized, confirmed, and saved. But they could be exploited, made to do the work that was beneath the others and accepting their fate "because we were daughters of the street, because we were poor, because we were stupid, despicable, pitiful beings." Reyes spent 15 formative years there, praying in a Latin she didn't understand but was forced to memorize in order to escape a hell that seemed all too real. The memoir ends on the verge of her leaving, giving no hint of the extraordinary life that would involve close friendships with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, "as part of a Latin American and European cultural elite." She mesmerized her friends with stories of her childhood, and one of them suggested that she write them down. This book is the result, posthumously published in 2012 to great acclaim in her native Colombia. An unsentimental and inspiring depiction of rising out of atrocious circumstances.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

popularity
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shortDescription
A literary discovery: an extraordinary account, in the tradition of The House on Mango Street and Angela's Ashes, of a Colombian woman's harrowing childhood

This astonishing memoir of a childhood lived in extreme poverty in Latin America was hailed as an instant classic when first published in Colombia in 2012, nine years after the death of its author, who was encouraged in her writing by Gabriel García Márquez. Comprised of letters written over the course of thirty years, and translated and introduced by acclaimed Peruvian-American writer Daniel Alarcón, it describes in vivid, painterly detail the remarkable courage and limitless imagination of a young girl growing up with nothing.

Emma was an illegitimate child, raised in a windowless room in Bogotá with no water or toilet and only ingenuity to keep her and her sister alive. Abandoned by their mother, she and her sister moved to a convent housing...
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