The South American Diaries by John Hopkins - review by Sara Wheeler

Sara Wheeler

Canoes & Cockfights

The South American Diaries


Arcadia Books 180pp £11.99 order from our bookshop

A Princeton-educated WASP of the old school, John Hopkins mostly writes novels, but The Tangier Diaries 1962–1979, published in 1998, is probably his best-known work. Otherwise his books are more highly praised, and sell better, in France than here in his adopted homeland. So what of this latest volume? It is presented as a kind of sequel to the earlier Diaries, though it records a journey straddling 1972–3 – an interlude, in other words, in the Tangier years.

Beginning in a bar in Mexicali, Mexico, the 34-year-old author meanders through Central America and on to Venezuela, Surinam, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. Funds are apparently abundant, and Hopkins gets around by plane, bus, ship, colectivo taxi (spelled wrongly throughout) – however he can. He is a resourceful

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