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Jaguar Smile

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  1,435 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
This edition includes a new Preface by the author to the 1997 paperback edition. In this portrait of the people, the politics, the land, and the poetry of Nicaragua, Rushdie brings to the forefront the palpable human facts of a country in the midst of a revolution. Rushdie went to Nicaragua in 1986, "harboring no preconceptions of what he might find." What he discovered wa ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 1st 1997 by Holt McDougal (first published 1987)
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Petra X smoke fish no cigar
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 o
...more
Chad Bearden
Dec 31, 2008 Chad Bearden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reportage
I didn't know much about Nicaragua or the Contra War of the 80s, as I was only in gradeschool at the time. I didn't pick this book up because I wanted to find out more about the topic either. I picked it up, because I thought it would a short novel I could finish off before the new year. I was the definition of a blank slate. Imagine my surprise when I realized that this was actually a work of non-fiction.

As a blank slate, I can't really rate this book based on how accurate Rushdie's depiction o
...more
Amber
Dec 19, 2009 Amber rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este fue el primer libro de Salman Rushdie que habia leido. Me llamó la atención porque habia visitado Nicaragua un par de meses antes de que lo econtrara en una librería en San Salvador. Entonces, no lo leí por el autor sino el tema.
Este libro consiste de sus entrevistas y observaciones del gobierno Nicaraguense en la época de la guerra civil. Sin embargo, si piensas que el Sr. Rushdie es periodista, este libro te va a decepcionar porque a veces parece que el autor tiene predisposición hacia el
...more
Mike
Jun 18, 2008 Mike rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This isn't a badly written book by any means. Rushdie is, of course, a great writer, and when he's describing the nonpolitical people and places he visited in Nicaragua it's an interesting book. But what he had to say in this book overall really bugged me. I read it along with Kinzer's book about Nicaragua, "Blood of Brothers", and Kinzer has profoundly different things to say about the Sandinistas than does Rushdie. At one point, he actually mocks and criticizes an unfavorable story about the S ...more
Paul
Sep 08, 2013 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I discovered this in the Latin America section in Stanfords, quite unaware that Salman Rushdie had written it, and central America was somewhere I have always wanted to travel around.

Rusdie’s trip of three weeks was made at the invitation of the Sandinista Association of Cultural workers and he was there at the seven year anniversary of the Sandinista’s rise to power. While there he conversed with the President, Daniel Ortega, ministers (most of whom are poets) the owner of the recently closed L
...more
Marie
Mar 26, 2011 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Especially meaningful for me because I was in Nicaragua the same year as Salman Rushdie, so he reminds me of much and brings back memories.
Kevin
May 15, 2016 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gasp-non-fiction
Unlike his fictional novels, The Jaguar Smile by Salman Rushdie does not get a lot of press... and why is that? Is it a plot by the CIA dogs to suppress information on Nicaragua? Is it communist apologetica? Does it just plain suck? The answer to all three questions is, no, quit being silly.

The Jaguar Smile is not a novel, but a journalistic account of Rushdie's visit to Nicaragua to ascertain what the deal was with the Sandinistas and why Reagan wanted to crush them (spoiler alert: it's because
...more
Ryan
Jun 30, 2010 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 100-in-2010
I bought The Jaguar Smile a few years ago after having spent a bit more than a week in Nicaragua visiting a friend. I was a little surprised to see Salman Rushdie writing about Central America, and I think at first I thought it was a collection of fiction stories. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually a nonfiction look at his stay in Nicaragua during the time the Sandinistas were in power in the late 80s. Apparently the book got a lot of flak for being too kind to Ortega and th ...more
Taylor Storey
Jan 24, 2016 Taylor Storey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this one during a trip I took to Nicaragua, bought it in Leon at buho books.

The book was great. Very much about politics, but also very much about people in Nicaragua. The Sandinistas brought Rushdie out to do some exploring and hopefully exchange some writing on the trip.

He mostly liked the Sandinistas values except for their censure of the press -- "wartime only!" And their more or less casual approach to violence.

The book is really eye opening with regards to American foreign policy
...more
Brian
Jul 26, 2009 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mike's review on 06/18 is right on the mark. Rushdie, obviously has written this book after having very little exposure to the Sandinista government of the 1980's. Taking into consideration the red carpet treatment he got for the 3 weeks he was in Nicaragua, it's understandable why he may have come to the ill-informed illusions regarding the Sandinista that he puts forth in this novel.

Disregarding Rushdie's bias, this book is a well written behind the scenes look at the country of Nicaragua duri
...more
Jerry DePyper
Sep 16, 2014 Jerry DePyper rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As a U.S. citizen residing in Nicaragua, I expected to find The Jaguar Smile interesting and insightful. But I learned next to nothing and saw little in this book that resembled Nicaragua as I've experienced it.

I must admit Salman Rushdie enjoyed certain advantages over me. I've only lived in Nicaragua for a little over 4 years, most of which time I've spent in a rustic barrio of Jinotega, rubbing elbows with my Jinotegan neighbors. Trips to other parts of the country have been via crowded buses
...more
Thomas
Jan 08, 2010 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Rushdie's literary journalism is an outstanding introduction to Nicaraguan culture. Written during the height of the Contra War, he is largely sympathetic to the Sandinista cause, but it is not without critique. Revolutions are not panaceas for societal or governmental disfunction. Too often they turn into what they overthrew. Still, Rushdie expressed optimism for the country that rid itself of an oppressive dictator, and regardless of the course of history, the Nicaraguan people continue to be ...more
Lorena
Mar 27, 2015 Lorena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nicaragua
Rushdie packs a lot into this book considering it documents a 3-week visit. But those 3 weeks were at a crucial point in the history of the war in Nicaragua, and his powers of observation are as astute as ever. I learned more about the personalities of the cast of characters than the machinations between the great forces that were being brought down on the heads of the Nicaraguan people. Rushdie is funny at times, and he is also arrogant and elitist. I grew impatient with the gossipy bits about ...more
Moses Hetfield
Mar 28, 2016 Moses Hetfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this on a flight to Nicaragua for a class trip, and I found that it provided much useful background on Nicaraguan history. Rushdie, who visited Nicaragua in 1986, doesn't hide the fact that he was merely an outsider looking in on the country and has no pretensions of being a complete expert on the situation, but nonetheless shows himself to be quite an astute observer during his visit. While Rushdie expresses largely supportive sentiments towards the FSLN government, he doesn't fail to cr ...more
Ian
Jul 18, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this short portrait of Nicaragua in 1986, seven years on from the Sandinista revolution with the US backed Contra counter insurgency as massively funded by Republican President Ronald Reagan in full swing. Such a shame that even post the Vietnam fiasco the US felt the need to support undemocratic fascist dictatorships as opposed to left wing governments supported by a majority of the populace. Thank you Salman Rushdie. I may not like your novels but this piece of political and s ...more
Mat
May 30, 2012 Mat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to give this one four stars but docked one star because it is no longer relevant to present-day Nicaragua. Not saying that this is a bad book at all, it is in fact quite good. However, it does not rank among Rushdie's classics like Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses of The Moor's Last Sigh, which are all fantastic stories filled with Rushdie's scathing tongue-in-cheek humour.

The Jaguar's Smile, the title of which comes from a famous Nicaraguan poem, is the first (and possibly only)
...more
Trebor
Apr 09, 2013 Trebor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent look at the Sandinista revolution and historical period from the perspective of a great and objective mind. Rushdie didn't go as a booster of Nicaragua, and though he remains skeptical throughout the book about press censorship, he ends up very impressed with the movement overall. The tragedy ends up the usual Central American tragedy of centuries...the US, which shamefully throws its own history under the bus in its efforts to control markets in its 'hemisphere' suppresses ...more
Jamie MacDonald Jones
Beautifully balanced and a simply stunning portrayal of Nicaragua. This is the first time I have read anything by Rushdie and although his leanings are clear, he does give space to the alternative. The book functioned not just as a travel journal or memoir, but as a path into a wider philosophical and political debate that, to me, still allows the reader to form their own opinion. A triumph.
Becca
Nov 08, 2007 Becca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went to Nicaragua in August and was very struck by the timbre of the place. Literally every kind of political, social and natural disaster that could occur, has occurred in Nicaragua, and yet, the citizens seem to wake up every morning with a great pride in their past and hope for their future. One of the most inspiring places I've ever been. I went with only a basic knowledge of Nicaragua's political history, so I've been reading up since then. I chose this book because I needed a break from ...more
Miranda
Jun 11, 2008 Miranda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sterling journalism mixed with poetic ruminations on the political climate of Nicaragua in 1986. Rushdie can take just about anything and turn it into a metaphor that gives his reader a sudden, profound insight into whatever it is he's expounding upon (also a highly apropos technique for a writer writing about Nicaragua, a country of poets). My favorite passage, however, is when he doesn't poeticize experience but rather recogizes the extreme "realness" of existence in the face of making history ...more
Camille
Mar 14, 2015 Camille rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, politics
Salman Rushdie a un style étoilé, un vrai talent de conteur, qu'il perd de temps à autre dans des récits qui ne lui ressemblent pas - et je pense, par exemple, à Fury.
J'ai commencé à lire le Sourire du jaguar en arrivant au Nicaragua, car c'était le moment parfait pour aborder un texte de Rushdie que je savais très critiqué.
M'y connaissant alors très peu en histoire contemporaine du Nicaragua, j'ai appris beaucoup à la lecture du Sourire du jaguar. On a souvent dit que ce livre était une prise
...more
Shannon
Jun 22, 2009 Shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
it's partisan, sure. but that's not the problem: it's too light! i'll also grant that the book documents a two week stay by a non-specialist. that's not the problem either.

the problem: where's the background? rushdie is a expert in one thing; he's a great writer of fiction. and he should know that for three-dimensional characters, even in a travel book, the reader needs a clue on whose claims are suspect, who's not telling the whole truth (and which part are they omitting)? the good guys might
...more
Patrick McCoy
Sep 24, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
The Jaguar's Smile (1987) is Salman Rushdie’s first nonfiction book about his visit to Nicaragua in the heat of the battle communist Sandinistas versus the US government backed Contras. It is a curious book since it reads like a personal essay that exposes Rushdie’s political leanings, literary tastes and discoveries made in Nicaragua, as well as part travelogue. Rushdie is sympathetic to the cause, but also cautious and skeptical and he doesn’t swallow everything that is told or shown to him. B ...more
Ethan Roeder
Apr 30, 2016 Ethan Roeder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas who rule Nicaragua in the 1980's are successful at delivering on their vision for the country, and they remain true to the ideals of the revolution. Their efforts are hamstrung by the persistent coersion and interference of the US and the contras. They make rookie mistakes and take steps that are self-serving, undermining their own goals. They're not communists, but they did shut down the largest newspaper in the country for spurious reasons, perhaps creating (a ...more
Bob Keller
Rushdie's first non-fiction foray, it's an account of his three week 1986 trip to Nicaragua as a guest of the Sandanistas, during their war with the US backed Contras. This edition includes a 1994 prologue in which he admits to being naive about what he was told and what was real, but he still overall was a supporter. By then subsequent elections had thrown out most of the rebel leaders and the movement seemed to have fizzled out. He gives them credit for walking away when they lost the election ...more
Rachel
Aug 08, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"To visit Nicaragua was to be shown that the world was not television, or history, or fiction. The world was real, and this was its actual, unmediated reality."

This book meant a lot to me because of the time I spent in Nicaragua. For someone less affected by the country, it might not be as good. Still, I thought it was generally well-written and presented a little-heard but much-needed perspective on the Sandinista government in the 1980s. In light of subsequent developments (especially Ortega's
...more
Raúl Sánchez
Nov 14, 2010 Raúl Sánchez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
En el Rushdie rush, este libro lo devoré, practicamente. Una visita a Nicaragüa, Daniel Ortega, la Contra, etc. Vemos al Rushdie más ingenuo politicamente hablando, no por lo que demostraria la historia respecto a Ortega, sino porque realmente sus observaciones son ingenuas. Sin embargo, comparto mucha de su ingenuidad. Creo en que un pueblo tiene derecho a autogobernarse, creo que Vargas Llosa apoya gobiernos de derecha en nombre de la democracia, pero no de izquierda (aunque intente hacernos c ...more
Gunnar
Sep 05, 2008 Gunnar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rushdie always struck me as a blowhard. That was before reading him. Now, he seems smart and in touch.
Good writer, too. Making me want to check out some of his more well known stuff.
As for the content of the book, the basic premise is a three-week trip to Nicaragua in the mid-1980s, during US-backed Contra war.
Rushdie is sympathetic to the Sandistas and deservedly critical of the United Statees.
For anyone desiring to know more about one example of America's abysmal Central American foreign poli
...more
Ali
From Midnight Children on, seems that Roshdie’s preference moves tward the language rather than the narration itself. Comparing ”The ground beneath of her feet” and ”Midnight children” one comes to a more beautiful language but less interesting events.
در اثار رشدی زبان از زیبایی خارق العاده ای برخوردار است. واژه هایی که رشدی در زبان انگلیسی ابداع می کند و عمدتن مخلوطی از انگلیسی هندی- بریتانیایی ست، گاه به توجیه صحنه، عمل یا شخصیت در روایت کمک شایانی می کند. بسیاری از واژه های ابداعی رشدی در انک
...more
Christine
May 27, 2008 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful, evocative snapshot of Nicaragua's tumultuous revolutionary transition in the 1980s. Rushdie creates an easy-to-read narrative portrait of many of the main figures of this period, as well as a glimpse into the effects of the transition on national identity and daily life. I wish he had spent more time in Nicaragua to allow for a broader and deeper perspective; part of me wonders why he was motivated to write the book in the first place. I also would have gained more if the whole book ...more
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Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is a novelist and essayist. Much of his early fiction is set at least partly on the Indian subcontinent. His style is often classified as magical realism, while a dominant theme of his work is the story of the many connections, disruptions and migrations between the Eastern and Western world.

His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, led to protests from Muslims in several coun
...more
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“Happy birthday, Nicaragua. I drank a toast in the best rum in the world, Flor de Caña Extra Seco. Mixed with Coke, it was called a Nica-libre, and after a few glasses I was ready to take on the salsa champions and knock them dead. I went outside to dance.” 4 likes
“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. The street was obviously going down in the world, what with the murder of the nanny Sandra Rivett by that nice Lord Lucan at number 44, and I moved out a few months later. I never met Hope Somoza, but her house became notorious in the street for a burglar alarm that went off with surprising frequency, and for the occasional parties that would cause the street to be jammed solid with Rolls—Royce, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar limousines. Back in Managua, her husband 'Tacho' had taken a mistress, Dinorah, and Hope was no doubt trying to keep her spirits up.” 0 likes
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