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The Robber of Memories

A River Journey Through Colombia

List Price: $26.00

October 8, 2013 | Hardcover | 6 x 9, 272 Pages | ISBN 9781619021969

“A well-rendered travelogue and a profound excursion into what it means to remember and forget.” —Kirkus

Magdalena, a river that courses through the heart of Colombia, connects a violent past with the country’s uncertain present. British writer Michael Jacobs struggles to reconcile his love for the land and its people with the dangers that both still present.

Determined to eliminate modern conveniences from his journey, he begins traversing the river by tugboat. He makes an exception for a cell phone that maintains a sporadic signal at best, in efforts to keep in touch with his mother suffering from deteriorating health. Jacobs cannot help but notice the irony of his mother’s dementia and his travels through Colombian townships with the world’s highest incidence of early-onset Alzheimer’s.

While navigating the mysterious river and unfamiliar territory—both emotionally and geographically—Jacobs comes across Gabriel Garcia Márquez, whose own faltering memory shows a growing obsession with the Magdalena River of his youth. When Jacobs and his companions are apprehended by FARC guerillas who turn out to be as quirky and affable as they are intimidating, life begins to imitate the magical realism of Márquez’s signature works. Shortly after being released from captivity, the FARC camp is bombed by the Colombian air force, leaving no likely survivors among his oddly likeable captors.

Exploring themes of adventure, endings, and “the utter pointlessness of it all,” Jacobs can only forge onward in his reflection of the mystical river.

About Michael Jacobs

MICHAEL JACOBS was born in Italy and studied Art History at the Courtauld Institute in London. He is the author of several travel books, including Andes and The Factory of Light: Tales from My Andalucían Village, which was shortlisted for the 2004 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. He lives in Spain and London.

Praise

“A well-rendered travelogue and a profound excursion into what it means to remember and forget.” —Kirkus

“The erudite and graceful travel writer Jacobs takes us down Colombia’s longest river, the Magdalena, and it is a thrilling and fearsome ride…Jacobs delivers not only an adventure story and a travel narrative, but also an excursion into memory itself…a text that stands with Paul Theroux, Bruce Chatwin, and, even, in some ways, Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi.” —Booklist

Travel writer Jacobs offers this dramatic travelogue of a journey through Colombia on the Magdalena River. The first-person narrative reads like a novel, enhanced by reflections on eerie parallels between the author’s home life, books read, and the experiences at hand.” —Book News, Inc.

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