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The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey (1987)

by Salman Rushdie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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718732,396 (3.37)19
"I did not go to Nicaragua intending to write a book, or, indeed, to write at all: but my encounter with the place affected me so deeply that in the end I had no choice." So notes Salman Rushdie in his first work of nonfiction, a book as imaginative and meaningful as his acclaimed novels. In The Jaguar Smile, Rushdie paints a brilliantly sharp and haunting portrait of the people, the politics, the terrain, and the poetry of "a country in which the ancient, opposing forces of creation and destruction were in violent collision." Recounting his travels there in 1986, in the midst of America's behind-the-scenes war against the Sandinistas, Rushdie reveals a nation resounding to the clashes between government and individuals, history and morality.… (more)
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» See also 19 mentions

English (6)  Danish (1)  All languages (7)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I knew very little about Nicaragua before I opened this book and now I know a little more. It is a portrait of the country at a particular time, after the sandinista revolution but before its outcome was known. In 1986, the USA under President Reagan defied the International Criminal Court and continued to fund Contra counter-insurgents in Nicaragua. Rushdie was a guest of the Sandinista government and he was charmed by a country led by poets whose revolution seemed anything but a dictatorship in the making. There were problems to be resolved but at that time war with the USA seemed a real possibility for the Nicaraguan people. A fascinating snapshot of a country in the making. ( )
  questbird | Apr 25, 2019 |
A personal journey into a politically explosive land. Rushdie gives us his take on things happening in Nicaragua - an extremely complicated situation. Introducing us to real people embroiled in this situation, helps us avoid the oversimplification many times attibuted to investigative journalism. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
A magnificent short piece of travel writing and political reportage, with the celebrated writer visiting Nicaragua on little more than a whim to see what the reality of the situation was. Brilliant stuff. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Nov 9, 2014 |
I loved the breadth and brilliance of Rushdie's Midnight's Children, admired his clever, biting and sly portrait of Benazir Bhutto (the 'Virgin Ironpants') in Shame, was confused with the immature ramblings of Grimus, bored with the Satanic Verses, but to some extent sympathised with the author's viewpoint in The Jaguar Smile.

One of many anti-American, or at least pro-socialist, books that seeks to cast doubt on US involvement on foreign soil in the name of political freedom and the expansion of market, this one is also somewhat of a travelogue and occasionally entertaining. As in almost all Rushdie books, the reader is assumed to be well-read and to be able to catch all the literary allusions which so amuse the author himself, just as they did his hero James Joyce.

If you are a Rushdie afficianado then you will love this book, otherwise you might find its greatest virtue is its brevity. ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
"Rushdie winds up writing a great deal of admiring drivel at the knees of various Sandinista commanders who have been more interestingly interviewed elsewhere . . . [But] Rushdie's effort is worth a second look because it is also an account of the confusion any one of us might feel if we visited Nicaragua and gave it a chance to affect us . . ."
 

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Salman Rushdieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Walz, MelanieÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
There was a young girl of Nic'ragua
Who smiled as she rode on a jaguar.
They returned from the ride
With the young girl inside
And the smile on the face of the jaguar.
ANON
Dedication
For Robbie
First words
Ten years ago, when I was living in a small flat above an off-licence in SW1, I learned that the big house next door had been bought by the wife of the dictator of Nicaragua, Anastasio Somoza Debayle.
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"I did not go to Nicaragua intending to write a book, or, indeed, to write at all: but my encounter with the place affected me so deeply that in the end I had no choice." So notes Salman Rushdie in his first work of nonfiction, a book as imaginative and meaningful as his acclaimed novels. In The Jaguar Smile, Rushdie paints a brilliantly sharp and haunting portrait of the people, the politics, the terrain, and the poetry of "a country in which the ancient, opposing forces of creation and destruction were in violent collision." Recounting his travels there in 1986, in the midst of America's behind-the-scenes war against the Sandinistas, Rushdie reveals a nation resounding to the clashes between government and individuals, history and morality.

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