The White Ravens Database

Presented by   Internationale Jugendbibliothek / International Youth Library

Spanish / Colombia

Viendo el fuego desde la terraza

(Seeing the fire from the terrace)

Buitrago, Jairo (text)
Barrón, Israel (illus.)
Bogotá: Panamericana, 2020. – 106 p.
ISBN 978-958-30-6095-3

Colombia  | History 1985  | Violence  | Everyday life  | First love

Reading age: 12+

White Ravens issue: 2021


The 6th of November, 1985 starts like any other day for Gabriel and his brother Sergio, until the school principal sends all students home at midday. Militants from the guerrilla organization M-19 have taken over the Palace of Justice in Bogotá and are holding hostages. The military will later end the hostage situation, but dozens of people are killed and others disappear without a trace during this operation. This day, burned deep into the collective memory of Colombia, is portrayed from the perspective of the young protagonist. With Sergio and Manuela, his secret crush, Gabriel tries to get back home safely. In this novel, Jairo Buitrago develops the contrast between the experiences of the adolescents and the dramatic events whose import they only partly understand. The portrayal of the parallelism between the very different levels is gripping. While the political events come thick and fast, the teens’ lives in a sense continue on as usual, centred on things like love and music, as banal as these may seem at such a time. [JW]