Every Day the River Changes: Four Weeks Down the Magdalena

Jordan Salama. Catapult, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-1-64622-044-1
Journalist Salama debuts with a mesmerizing travelogue spanning four weeks on different stretches of Colombia’s Magdalena River. When Salama first traveled to Colombia as a college freshman in 2016, he was frequently told the Magdalena—which flows through the heart of the country, from the Andes Mountains to the Caribbean Sea—was “a place you must not miss.” So in 2018, as part of his senior thesis for Princeton University, Salama set out to tour the 950 miles of river—traversing “mountains, jungles, plains, and swamplands”—in an effort to capture its complicated history. Among the memorable experiences he depicts is staying at one of “Colombia’s grandest hotels” the night before it permanently closed, embarking on a hunt for invasive hippos with local biologists, and befriending a former schoolteacher who delivers books, via donkey, to local children. Through keen reporting, he unpacks how “the ever-shifting fortunes of the Colombian people have long mirrored the rise and fall of their country’s greatest river”—from the river’s booming “golden age” in the 1940s to its ecological ruin and the violence of guerrilla war that plagued subsequent decades. Both complex and achingly beautiful, this outstanding account brims with humanity. Agent: Andrew Blauner, Blauner Books. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 07/20/2021
Release date: 11/16/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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