In this brilliantly focused and haunting portrait of the people, the politics, the land, and the poetry of Nicaragua, Salman Rushdie brings to the forefront the palpable human facts of a country in the midst of revolution. Rushdie went to Nicaragua in 1986. What he discovered was overwhelming: a land of difficult, often beautiful contradictions, of strange heroes and warrior-poets. Rushdie came to know an enormous range of people, from the foreign minister - a priest - to the midwife who kept a pet cow in her living room. His perceptions always heightened by his sensitivity and his unique flair for language, in The Jaguar Smile, Rushdie brings us the true Nicaragua, where nothing is simple, everything is contested, and life-or-death struggles are an everyday occurrence.
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(198mm x 129mm x 10mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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US Kirkus Review »
The noted British novelist (Shame, Midnight's Children) reports on a recent visit to Nicaragua. Rushdie came to the country with a basically anti-American point of view, objecting to the "dirty tricks" of the Reagan government which, as he duly quotes Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, are looked upon as "worse than Hitler." Rushdie's lack of sympathy with Americans extends to a clumsy attempt to capture American dialogue, speckled with "reckons" and similar cliches, surprisingly maladroit for so accomplished a writer. However, this brief but telling account does not idealize the Sandinistas either. Where they show ignorance or naivete, it is commented upon, such as when an interpreter finds it impossible to believe that forced labor camps exist in the Soviet Union, or when Cultural Minister Ernesto Cardenal refuses to ackowledge any human-rights violations against writers and homosexuals in Castro's Cuba. Although obviously not a reporter by temperament, Rushdie does a diligent journalistic job of seeing the country, even visiting the hospitals full of young casualties of the fight against the contras. Most of this closely argued little book is appealing for its sympathy with this troubled country, where most politicians are poets: Ortega says that "everybody is considered to be a poet until he proves to the contrary." Another poet of Nicaraguan history, trapped by Somoza and ordered to surrender, responded with the memorable line, "let your mother surrender!" But ultimately the unanswered anti-American bias here will gall. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie is the author of ten novels, one collection of short stories, three works of non-fiction, and the co-editor of The Vintage Book of Indian Writing. In 1993 Midnight's Children was judged to be the Best of the Booker, the best novel to have won the Booker Prize in its forty year history. The Moor's Last Sigh won the Whitbread Prize in 1995 and the European Union's Aristeion Prize for Literature in 1996. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres.