Featured Author: Sergio Ramírez
Works by and about Sergio Ramírez in LALT No. 8:
Last November, Central American literature, and Nicaraguan literature in particular, received a tremendous pat on the back when, as we know, Sergio Ramírez was named the winner of the 2017 Cervantes Prize. This is no small feat, since throughout the region’s history the Isthmus has appeared only sporadically in the continental European imagination, the majority of times owing to its military dictatorships, political instability, organized crime, and/or widespread violence. In the literary headlines, since the great seer Rubén Darío made the region appear on the world map at the turn of the twentieth century, with the exception of the achievements of the Guatemalan Nobel Prize winner Miguel Ángel Asturias some time later, very little has been heard of the region’s literature.
The essayistic work of Sergio Ramírez Mercado (Masatepe 1942), the newest recipient of the Cervantes Prize, is vast and reflects a great variety of interests that have occupied the writer over the years. We can divide his essays into three large groups: his political essays that dominated the first stage of his life, until 1995 when he separated from the Sandinista Front and wrote Adiós muchachos (1999). His literary essays, which he begins to write at the start of his career, but have become more frequent and profound from 1995 to the present. And lastly his reportage, short essays, newspaper articles, columns, and blogs.
Sergio Ramírez: "I do not know of a single novel that has brought about a revolution": A Conversation with Tulio Hernández
In the 1970s, Ramírez was a key player in the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution. In the eighties, he served as Vice President of Nicaragua. Later, in the nineties, he became disenchanted and bid farewell to the political process. In 1999, in the closing moments of the twentieth century, he published a book, Adiós, muchachos [Goodbye, boys], where he left his personal political creed in writing. Though he has distanced himself from political activism, he closely follows current events in Latin America.
Before returning to Managua he agreed to have a conversation about Nicaragua and Venezuela, a country that he knows well. The comparisons between the so-called socialism of the twenty-first century and the hybrid regime presided over by Daniel Ortega were inevitable.
Allow me to dedicate this prize to the memory of the Nicaraguans, who in the last few days have been murdered in the streets for demanding justice and democracy and also to the thousands of youths who continue the struggle with no other weapon than their ideals, so that Nicaragua may once again be a Republic. I come from a small country that raises its volcanic mountain range in the middle of the fiery Central American landscape that in one of the stanzas of his Canto General Neruda called, “the sweet waist of America.” An explosive waist. Balcanes y volcanes [Balkans and volcanoes] was the title I gave to an essay of my youth in which I tried to explain the cultural nature of the region whose history is marked by the burning iron of cataclysms, repeated tyrannies, rebellions and brawls—but what also makes Nicaragua is poetry. We are all poets by birth, unless proven otherwise.