Labyrinth Books | Every Day the River Changes: Four Weeks Down the Magdalena

Nov 30, 2021, 6:00 pm7:30 pm
In-person & online
  • Program in Journalism
  • Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Event Description

An American writer of Argentine, Syrian, and Iraqi Jewish descent, Jordan Salama tells the story of the Río Magdalena, nearly one thousand miles long, in the heart of Colombia. This is Gabriel García Márquez’s territoryrumor has it Macondo was partly inspired by the port town of Mompoxas much as that of the Middle Eastern immigrants who run fabric stores by its banks. Join us to hear this riveting tale.

Following the river from its source high in the Andes to its mouth on the Caribbean coast, journeying by boat, bus, and improvised motobalinera, Salama writes against stereotype and toward the rich lives of those he meets. Among them are a canoe builder, biologists who study invasive hippopotamuses, a Queens transplant managing a failing hotel, a jeweler practicing the art of silver filigree, and a traveling librarian whose donkeys, Alfa and Beto, haul books to rural children. Joy, mourning, and humor come together in this astonishing debut, about a country too often seen as only a site of war, and a tale of lively adventure following a legendary river.

Jordan Salama’s work has appeared in outlets including The New York Times, National Geographic, and Scientific American. A 2019 graduate of Princeton University, he lives in New York. Michael Lemonick was the long-time opinion editor at Scientific American, a former senior staff writer at Climate Central, and a former senior science writer at Time. He is the author of many popular books on science, including Echo of the Big Bang; Other Worlds: The Search for Life in the Universe; and Mirror Earth: The Search for Our Planet’s Twin. He teaches science writing at Princeton University.