Gallego, Ruben 1968–
Gallego, Ruben 1968–
(Ruben David Gonsales Gallego)
PERSONAL: Born 1968, in Moscow, USSR (now Russia); son of Aurora Gallego (a journalist). Education: Educated in Soviet schools for the disabled.
ADDRESSES: Home—Madrid, Spain. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Harcourt Trade Publishers, 525 B St., Ste. 1900, San Diego, CA 92101.
AWARDS, HONORS: Russian Booker prize, for Beloe na chernom.
(As Ruben David Gonsales Gallego) Beloe na chernom (memoir), Limbus Press (Saint Petersburg, Russia), 2002, published under name Ruben Gallego, translation by Marian Schwartz, as White on Black, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Ruben Gallego's White on Black is the English-language translation of Beloe na chernom, his memoir of growing up in Soviet orphanages for the handicapped. Gallego was born with cerebral palsy, and his twin died at birth. His mother, Aurora, cared for him for more than a year, but her father, Ignacio, could not acknowledge the existence of his disabled grandson. The head of Spain's Communist Party had the boy transferred from the hospital to a state-run home and told his daughter that the baby had died. For three decades, she had no idea that he was alive or what his life had been like.
Meanwhile, Gallego believed that his mother had abandoned him. In his memoir, he writes of the kindness of some caregivers and the cruelty of others. He recalls how he dragged himself along the floor because he was not provided with a wheelchair. He writes of other children in the orphanage, including some, like Sasha and Genka, who were intellectually brilliant. When they reached age fifteen, they were transferred to a home for the elderly, where their care was even more lacking, and they died soon after. Gallego, who lived in several institutions, was also sent to such a home, but after the fall of communism he was issued identity papers and left to live his life. He searched for, and found, his mother in 2000, and they moved to Madrid the following year. Gallego, who has become mobile with the help of a motorized chair, typed his book with his two functioning fingers.
Gallego does not seek pity in his memoir. "Most of his fury is directed at the wider world and its blatant injustices," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor who called White on Black "rich, haunting and deceptively simple."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Gallego, Ruben David Gonsales, Beloe na chernom (memoir), Limbus Press (Saint Petersburg, Russia), 2002, published under name Ruben Gallego, translation by Marian Schwartz, as White on Black, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2005, review of White on Black, p. 1062.
Publishers Weekly, September 19, 2005, review of White on Black, p. 51.
Words without Borders, http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/> (January 3, 2006), Boris Fishman, review of White on Black.