Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Making a Book in Guatemala

Guatemala: Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny (New York, WW Norton, 1988) will be published in Guatemala in June 2010. The process is far from over: in January and February, the designer, Lucía Menéndez de la Riva, will be reviewing the photos with photographer Daniel Chauche and Andrés Asturias of Estudio A2, and laying out the book. Pamela Escobar, the copy editor, is making corrections and ensuring grammatical and substantive consistency throughout the text. In March I will be in Guatemala again, and we will be proofing the Sherpas (the photos pages and text) and taking the book to the printer -- Print Studio -- before Easter.

We hope the final product will turn out well for two reasons.

First, out aim is to create both a memory and a memorial to Guatemala's civil war. The book, though far from perfect, covers a good deal of ground from those years, namely 1980 through 1989. That period is represented by over 150 color photographs; fifty new photos have been added, some of which replace others in the old edition which either no longer seem relevant or simply were not strong photos in the first place. In addition, the text, which includes synopses of the various governments during that time as well as first-person testimonies, has remained unchanged, with the exception of new introductions by Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Society Institute, and Juan Luis Font, managing editor of elPeriódico.

The second purpose of this book, and one that developed in great part thanks to Daniel Chauche, was the notion that it could become a model for future color photo books published in Guatemala. With the exception of the photo scan -- National Geographic Imaging in Washington DC digitized 30-year-old Kodachrome transparencies --every other technical portion of the book's execution has been carried out in Guatemala. This includes the English to Spanish translation, copy editing, photo
editing, layout and design, PhotoShop enhancement and, last but not least, the printing.

In a future post, I will summarize how the book was put together.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Guatemala Book 2010: Guatemala: Eterna Primavera, Eterna Tiranía

During the 1980s, I was a photographer in Guatemala. At the same time I wrote human rights reports for Human Rights Watch (then Americas Watch). In 1988, W.W. Norton (New York/London) published my color photos and testimonies on Guatemala's civil war. The book, which sold in hard and soft cover, was titled Guatemala: Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny. It sold 20,000 copies in the U.S. and the U.K., and then it went out of print.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Fundación Soros Guatemala (FSG), the book is being re-printed and re-distributed in Guatemala in June 2010.

The new edition is in Spanish. Photographically, the book is also improvement over the original version: the new edition contains more photographs, and 40% of them were not previously published. The photos -- all color -- have also benefited from digital scanning at National Geographic Imaging (Washington DC) and professional PhotoShop enhancement at Estudio A2 in Guatemala City.

From time to time I will be posting a selection of photos from Guatemala: Eterna Primavera, Eterna Tiranía on this blog site. I look forward to your comments, and any suggestions you may have for getting the word out in Guatemala.