I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala

by Rigoberta Menchú

Other authorsElisabeth Burgos-Debray (Editor), Ann Wright (Translator)
Paperback, 2010

Status

Checked out

Publication

Verso (2010), Edition: Second Edition, 320 pages

Description

Now a global bestseller, the remarkable life of Rigoberta Menchú, a Guatemalan peasant woman, reflects on the experiences common to many Indian communities in Latin America. Menchú suffered gross injustice and hardship in her early life: her brother, father and mother were murdered by the Guatemalan military. She learned Spanish and turned to catechistic work as an expression of political revolt as well as religious commitment. Menchú vividly conveys the traditional beliefs of her community and her personal response to feminist and socialist ideas. Above all, these pages are illuminated by the enduring courage and passionate sense of justice of an extraordinary woman.

User reviews

LibraryThing member t1bnotown
I was surprised and not surprised by the conditions that Rigoberta faced. The conditions on the Finca were awful- it's shocking that people would spray crops while workers are picking them. As awful as it was reading about, in some ways it wasn't surprising. I got to meet Rigoberta Menchu in high school, so it was exciting to finally read about her life and the hard work she did.… (more)
LibraryThing member bookwoman247
This is the biography of an Indian woman activist of Guatemala.

I found it fascinating to read about a life that is so different from what we in the industrialized world experience.

Her life story, which is told simply and plainly, is compelling.

Since this was written in the 1980's it is a bit dated. I have to wonder what the situation for the indigenous people and the laborers of Guatemala is today. I'm not sure the interenet would give an accurate picture.
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LibraryThing member umkaaaa
This is the true story of Rigoberta Menchu, a native from Guatemala, born into poverty and slave-like conditions, just like the rest of her people. This book describes the living conditions of the indigenous people of Guatemala, their struggle to better those conditions, the obstacles they face (kidnappings, murders, torture). It is also the story of Rigoberta Menchu and her family, most of which is murdered in the struggle for equality. An inspiring and eye-opening story.… (more)
LibraryThing member bfertig
“I’m still keeping secret what I think no-one should know. Not even anthropologists or intellectuals, no matter how many books they have, can found out all our secrets.” Indian society in Guatemala is filled with secrets. How many and what they are *about*, much less *are* is merely alluded to by Rigaberta as she recounts her life story and struggles. The narrative reads quite literally as if Rigaberta were telling her story directly to the reader. In so doing, she really tells us three stories: 1) Indian community life cycles, 2) Rigaberta’s life and work and 3) the history of the Guatemalan peasant revolution in the 60s-80s.

At the time of the telling, Rigaberta had only been speaking Spanish for three years, and deliberately learned it to better unite separate Indian communities with distinct languages and dialects against her and their common enemies: the Guatemalan government and rich finca landlords, who readily practiced discrimination, hostility, rape, land takeovers, massacres, and torture. She was never trained to read or write.

I expect that this (effective) primary source will be excellent fodder for many secondary sources that may make it more digestible. I recognize the need for Rigaberta’s voice to come through, but perhaps it could help broaden her audience by having a professional writer or biographer assist with smoothing the organization and clarity and such.

The raw power and emotion evident by what Rigoberta has to say makes this an important resource in bringing these issues to the international community. Though many secrets are still kept, this book is rich for curiosity seekers, social scientists, folks interested in labor and peasant movements, Latin American Indians, etc.
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LibraryThing member mearias
It's too bad that it was discovered that much of what she said about herself turned out to be untrue. BUT as she said, it's the story of her people, whether it was her or another Indian Woman the context is real and largely ignored. Everyone should be required to read. It's the global learning and understanding that we need.… (more)
LibraryThing member ThothJ
This was an interesting autobiography, or testimonial as Rigoberta calls it, but hard to read. The writing style is rather monotonous. In addition, the book is rather mired in controversy, ever since the publication of David Stoll's book: "Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans". In this book, Stoll refutes points out many inconsistencies in Menchu's story and refutes some the details she claims as part of her life story. Despite these issues, "I, Rigoberta Menchu", does tell the story of a indigenous people, who have systematically been ignored, marginalized, discriminated against, brutalized, and been the repeated victims of attempted genocide. And this is one story which the world should be listening too.… (more)
LibraryThing member starbox
And that's when my consciousness was born"
By sally tarbox on 22 December 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
The autobiography of a young Guatemalan peasant woman who went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Menchu was an uneducated Indian girl, brought up between the family home, subsistence farming in the Altiplano, and the fincas (plantations), where the family would spend some months earning a little money in almost slave-like conditions.
Menchu's story took place from the 1960s to 80s; she tells of the very traditional Mayan lifestyle - its happiness and security but also the way Indians were dismissed by the Ladino (Spanish) population as almost a sub-species. Malnutrition, defrauding of the workers, and horrific accounts of peasants killed on the fincas by the indiscriminate use of pesticides, make for grim reading.
As government-backed landowners muscled in, trying to seize the Indians' lands, Menchu and her family got caught up in the peasant struggle for rights in a corrupt regime. Murders and violence became commonplace as the authorities tried to silence them...

Menchu has a powerful story to tell. Illiterate till adulthood, she narrates her account in interviews with an anthropologist. The result is an interesting autobiography, but one that would have been much more readable if given a literary touch.
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LibraryThing member engpunk77
The most influential reading of my adult life, by far. I cried and vomited as I read this book in college (that's how much of a reaction I had), and it may have contributed most to my ideals and interest in global activism. Unfortunately, I haven't followed through with most of my intentions to save the world, as I've given in to the allure of the typical American family life. :(… (more)
LibraryThing member ThothJ
This was an interesting autobiography, or testimonial as Rigoberta calls it, but hard to read. The writing style is rather monotonous. In addition, the book is rather mired in controversy, ever since the publication of David Stoll's book: "Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans". In this book, Stoll refutes points out many inconsistencies in Menchu's story and refutes some the details she claims as part of her life story. Despite these issues, "I, Rigoberta Menchu", does tell the story of a indigenous people, who have systematically been ignored, marginalized, discriminated against, brutalized, and been the repeated victims of attempted genocide. And this is one story which the world should be listening too.… (more)

Language

Original language

English

Original publication date

1983

Physical description

320 p.; 5.48 inches

ISBN

1844674185 / 9781844674183
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