Eduardo Galeano wasn't a name on many American lips until Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave one of his books to President Obama at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago over the weekend. The book Chavez gifted, Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America, became the talk of the blogosphere, ultimately shooting the title from its onetime perch in the mid 50,000 range on Amazon's sales ranking to No. 2.
The plug is no doubt a welcome one for the book's small publisher, the lefty Monthly Review Press, but it hasn't come without its hiccups. Michael Yates, editorial director at the press (which is an off-shoot of the 1951-founded leftist non-profit magazine, The Monthly Review), declined to discuss numbers on the book--he refused to cite how many copies are in print--but said the small operation is dealing well with the demand. (Despite Yates's comments, the current wait for the book on Amazon is three to six weeks, indicating that the book is likely out of stock.)
Yates, who would only say that the house has "been able to fill some orders" and that it now has "a significant number of new copies being printed," is less occupied with demand than the notion that Galeano's book will get into more Americans' hands. Calling the title, which Monthly Review Press originally published in translation in 1971, a "conversation with the people as well as a call to action," Yates hopes the book will bring to light what the house's Web site dubs "five centuries of exploitation" in Latin America. (The book is a political history of Latin America framed through the notion that Western nations have exploitated the region economically for centuries.)
As it happens, The Monthly Review Press isn't the only publisher hoping to see Obama's run-in with Veins boost book sales, either. Nation Books, an imprint of Perseus, fortuitously has Galeano's next book, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone, on its summer list. According to a rep from Nation Books, Galeano called Mirrors "his most ambitious project to date" and is making a rare publicity trip to the States to promote it. Galeano, a major author in Latin America, will be at BEA signing copies, and Nation is planning on bumping the release from June 1 to an-as-yet-undecided date on the heels of the current publicity.