“Every suitcase contained the world,” Eduardo Galeano writes in “Immigrants a Century Ago,” one of 333 vignettes in his new collection, Voices of Time: A Life in Stories (Metropolitan). He lists some of the contents: “A lock of hair / a key that’s lost its door / a pipe that’s lost its mouth.” The acclaimed Uruguayan author’s book, itself a suitcase holding all that has passed through Galeano’s mind, encompasses sweetness and magic, dreams, poverty, Hiroshima, torture and exile, reckless multinational corporations, peasants, apartheid, Carthage, repressive Latin American governments, rebels, soccer, Zagreb, Gambia, Columbine, and the Twin Towers. Time is breathtakingly collapsed. “His teacher died an infamous death on a cross in Jerusalem,” he writes. “Twenty centuries later, bullets split open Carlos Mugica’s chest on a street in Buenos Aires.” Galeano links the 2003 destruction of Baghdad’s library and museum with bonfires of the Inquisition, then recounts a story recorded 4,000 years ago on a clay tablet that disappeared from the museum. He even puts the Chicago downtown flood of 1992 in historical context–just one more rebellion by a river that “refused to stay put.” Voices in Time is not as insistently mythic as Galeano’s award-winning “Memory of Fire” trilogy or as provocative as The Book of Embraces, but the pieces taken together form a time capsule of life in these disunited pan-American states. Tue 5/23, 7 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010 or mcachicago.org, $15.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/courtesy of Henry Holt and Company.