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In Memoriam – Michael Jacobs

January 13th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

michael-jacobsDeeply saddened by news of Michael Jacobs’ sudden death a few days ago, from cancer of the kidney which was only diagnosed in September.  He was 61.

Michael was a good friend and very kind man.  A dedicated hispanophile who lived in Andalucia, he wrote many books about both Spain and South America.  For my money his very best was his last, The Robber of Memories, a quite magical account of travelling down the Magdalena river in Colombia.  I reviewed it when it came out last year:

“Subtle and precise, it may well be Jacobs’ finest work after a lifetime of studying the Hispanic world. This is travel writing at its best, with the memories a country creates about itself weaving with those of the author for a journey that pulses with an elegiac, penumbral light.”

My daughter Daisy also interviewed him for Isis Magazine at Oxford and ended her piece by saying:

“For Jacob, travelling creates memory and it is these memories that keep us alive and moving forwards.  As Jacobs says, ‘It is our memories that sustain us in later life.’ “

 He will be much missed.

PS FEBRUARY – since this was written, a fine obituary has appeared in the Independent by Barnaby Rogerson

  1. January 15th, 2014 at 17:43 | #1

    I have happy memories of travels with Michael. In particular he made my first visit to Colombia a joy from the moment when, in a departure lounge at Bogota airport, he managed to use a three-hour delay as the excuse to get chatting to virtually all our fellow-passengers. Then there was the evening in Cartagena when he took me to dine in a restaurant run by Pablo Escobar’s former personal chef…

    Every conversation with him revealed more of Michael’s prodigious knowledge, about the Hispanic world, art, literature and of course food, all seasoned with terrific enthusiasm. Literary travellers who know as much as Michael can sometimes be crashing snobs and bores; fun, friendly and unflaggingly curious and courteous, he was the opposite in every possible way.

    His loss is a huge blow but at least the books capture some of his voice, with their deep learning worn so lightly and irresistible zest for the traveller’s life.

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