The Girl from Chimel

23rd January 2004 at 00:00
The Girl from Chimel By Rigoberta Mench# and Dante Liano Acorn Book Company pound;6.99; www.acornbook.co.uk Rigoberta Mench# has received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on behalf of the Maya, the indigenous people of Guatemala. Her Mayan name, Mi'n, is "another word for Sunday": Rigoberta was imposed by officialdom. This is a slim, beautifully produced memoir of an idyllic childhood in a village by a river at the foot of a mountain, before the family's world was overturned by civil war in the early Seventies. The much-interrupted stories and fragments of family history leave the reader hungry for more. The glimpses of the Mayan universe, with respect for nature at its heart, are especially compelling. Philip Pullman fans will enjoy the concept of the nawal, the secret animal said to be born at the same time as every baby.

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