The South American


by John Hopkins

full cover illustration by Colleen Dwire
ISBN 0-932274-xx-x
photo of author by Joseph McPhillips
235 PAGES, 4¾" x 7"
illustrated map by Lawrence Mynott

available February 2008


Cadmus Editions is pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of John Hopkins' The South American Diaries, 1972-1973, in February, 2008.

The South American Diaries, 1972-1973 completes the chronicle begun with The Tangier Diaries, 1962-1979, published in 1998 by Cadmus Editions.

Hopkins' diaries for the half-year where he traveled extensively in South America, from Mexico to the end of the continent with Madeleine van Breugel, were not included there and Cadmus Editions is pleased to send forth The South American Diaries, 1972-1973, thus completing publication of his expatriate chronicle of almost two decades.

The South American Diaries was first published by Quai Voltaire in 2005 as Carnets d'Amérique du Sud, 1972-1973, Un Amour imparfait, translated into French by Claude-Nathalie Thomas and Hélène Nunez.

“In order to finish this new novel set in South America I feel I need to go back there and reacquaint myself with the scene,” John Hopkins noted in his diary while living in Marrakesh. This he did the following year, 1972-1973, with Madeleine van Breugel, traveling by train, bus and boat from Mexico to the center of the continent.

Voluntary exile, traveler, nomad, Hopkins has never been a better writer, making use of everything that comes his way. He has the marvelous gift of passing from the tragic to the light-hearted in the same paragraph. Mysterious encounters, strange places, haphazard adventures, or his imperfect love for his traveling companion—it is his original outlook, both tender and biting, that lends a lyrical power to these diaries.

John Hopkins lived for nearly twenty years in Morocco. He now lives in Oxfordshire, and is the author of numerous books, including Tangier Buzzless Flies, The Flight of the Pelican, In the Chinese Mountains and The Tangier Diaries.

From the Book

October 15th

Cane fields, green hills and red earth. Children with shiny brown bodies splash like seals in brown rivers. Men on horseback and astride donkeys, with machetes. A profusion of orange flowers, the dark morning glory, broad flats of the water hyacinth. The ubiquitous vultures circle. Extinct green volcanoes . . . other, with clouds of steam pouring out. Gigantic thunderheads build up in the afternoon. We have climbed up from the coast, and the air is cooler, drier. Multiple slumped volcanoes. The hazy peaks of the Sierra Madre Occidental in the distance, where Humphrey Bogart sweated for gold. No, wrong, as he set out from Tampico, he would have panned for gold in the eastern range. B. Traven knew his way around. Gila monster country, jaws like steel. They say the lizard won't release its grip until the sun goes down. . . .

About the Book

John Hopkins' The South American Diaries, which is one of his best books, is also a very intimate journal describing the nomadic existence of a mismatched couple. Everything is there, the subtlety of his vision, the bitter lucidity, his deep interest in other people, and his own yearnings. Only a great writer can distill his encounters with these countries with such emotion. Hopkins takes us to Mexico, Guatemala, Peru and Bolivia, and up the Amazon with equal passion and always with a supreme elegance, never losing his sense of humor. A great talent.


Voluntary exile, traveler, nomad—Hopkins becomes more than a writer, making use of everything that happens on this journey—whether people, places, chance events or encounters, or the painful imperfection of his love for his companion. It is his unique vision, both tender and biting, which gives power to these journals.


Mexico City, Paramaribo, Manaus, then over the Andes of Peru and Bolivia to Paraguay and Argentina, before returning to Brazil. All by bus, train and by dugout canoe, and by cutting his way through the jungle with a machete. A year in which the novelist with writer's block turns himself into an incomparable diarist.

ELLE, November 4, 2005

Hopkins notices everything—the faces, the customs, the guilt of the west. Here is boredom, solitude, and cheap drinks. A deep melancholy hovers over these pages. “Traveling becomes synonymous with the passage of time.” There is time for everything, and nothing is lost.

MADAME FIGARO, February 4, 2005

It's a beautiful work and I am only sorry that it's not longer.

— Paul Bowles

I am filled with admiration for the depth, scope and skill of the book which together make it a brilliant read. The author conjures up so many places, known and unknown to me that it sends a shiver down the spine.

— A. Gibson

also by John Hopkins The Tangier Diaries 1962–1979