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To Bury Our Fathers

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Text: Spanish

253 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1977

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About the author

Sergio Ramírez

116 books110 followers
Sergio Ramírez Mercado (born August 5, 1942 in Masatepe, Nicaragua) is a Nicaraguan writer and intellectual who served in the leftist Government Junta of National Reconstruction and as Vice President of the country 1985-1990 under the presidency of Daniel Ortega.

Born in Masatepe in 1942, he published his first book, Cuentos, in 1963. He received his law degree from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua of León in 1964, where he obtained the Gold Medal for being the best student.

In 1977 Ramírez became head of the "Group of Twelve", a group of prominent intellectuals, priests, businesspeople, and members of civil society who publicly stated their support for the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) in its struggle to topple the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza Debayle. With the triumph of the Revolution in 1979, he became part of the Junta of the Government of National Reconstruction, where he presided over the National Council of Education. He was elected vice-president of Nicaragua in 1984 and was sworn in 1985.

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Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews
384 reviews21 followers
March 5, 2016
This is the story of Nicaragua between 1930 and 1960 mainly from the view point of the military interacting with the Presidential revolts. The timeline, based I’m sure on fact, is split into 6 segments of about 4 chapters. The start is with Colonel Lopez being defeated in an ambush in a cinema. Taleno, Jilguero and Raul cross paths and ultimately seek to dislodge ‘el hombre’ – the president – thereby ultimately seeking revenge on loyal Lopez. The 6 segments have a nice ink motif to start – this is important because the chapters are not presented in chronological order – all appear shuffled together. There is a chronology of events at the back of the book; I found it helpful to write the approximate data of each motif thereby framing the story better otherwise it is rather difficult to follow.

I’ve read many juggled timeline stories and this is classic Latin American (not magical realism) narrative with beatings, intrigue, revolution, jungle. It does somehow lack character or innovation but is reasonably good overall.

A quote: “Days later in the mortuary, as he was struggling to lift the naked, old, yellowing body on the slab to fit its arms into the sleeves, it gradually came to him, without the slightest sense of shock, that for the first time in his life he was holding this stranger who had been his father.

Profile Image for Edith.
132 reviews8 followers
September 14, 2019
The biographies of six protagonists illustrate the violent history of Nicaragua in particular and of Latin America in general between 1930 and 1961. Spineless Coronel López plays a central part in their lives because he is a loyal supporter of the Somoza regime and in charge of persecuting its opponents. Among the latter are his mentor the Indio and his protégé the Turco, officers of the National Guard who participated in revolts against the terror regime ten years apart and managed to escape into exile. He is after many others, too, like the members of a musical trio or the grandsons of the physician who would have become President of Nicaragua in 1944 hadn’t the elections been manipulated. Some of them are killed, others escape and eventually get a chance to take revenge on him…
For more about this challenging novel from Nicaragua follow the link to the long review on my book blog Edith’s Miscellany https://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com....
Profile Image for Miguel Antonio.
116 reviews4 followers
November 16, 2018
Una historia centroamericana, contada en todos los países, pero construida con una narrativa de alta calidad. Muy buena construcción del hilo de la historia, pero requiere mucha concentración para su lectura y poder llevar el ritmo de los saltos en tiempo y espacio de la historia. Eso hizo que la historia no me capturara inmediatamente.

Como en otras novelas sobre dictadores, se refleja que la figura del caudillo genera en las poblaciones una especie de figura sobrehumana, a la cual se le dan poderes, a veces hasta divinos.

Crítica al régimen somocista, pero que no es diferente del orteguismo. Hay que conocer la historia, para evitar repetirla.
Profile Image for Serena.
208 reviews3 followers
January 22, 2021
Far be it from me to argue with Salmon Rushdie, so when I saw his claim that "this marvellous novel was my companion as I travelled around Nicaragua" on the cover, I was certainly excited. Actually, while I am on the cover, it is a fantastic art piece El pueblo de Boaco by Mario Marín, I absolutely love the colour. So I was intruiged from the get-go. I have to say from there, I did need quite a bit of concentration, because of the non-linear structure, the links between characters not being too obvious to me (I appreciate this is done on purpose) and because of my lack of familiarity with Nicaraguan history (my fault, and this point is now improved thanks to the book). I really appreciate though that, in contrast to many other books which have an interesting structure that can get confusing, there is special effort to mitigate confusion in the summary of main story lines, and chronology at the end, which I personally really like, thought it made the book seem even more well-crafted and did not feel like it had any spoilers at all.

Like the previous observation of Zero (but for very different reasons) I resonated with the thought that originally I thought this is not a funny book, it has very heavy subject matter, and then I got surprised at points and made to laugh e.g. some attempts at piñata selling: "If it's nobody's birthday in the house where you knock, they look at you as though you are mad, with all those clay dolls hanging round your neck. And you can go the whole blessed day without discovering a single child who's having a birthday."

I also thought it was interesting that for a book with a lot of violence, fighting, revenge and torture there was a great celebration of art: from the brilliant woodblock vignettes by Dieter Masuhr, detailed discussions about dance and performance, music (especially on the guitar) featuring prominently, and the plotline around the Miss Nicaragua beauty pageant. I really got the impression of Nicaragua as a vibrantly cultural place.

Profile Image for Daniel Polansky.
Author 27 books1,129 followers
February 27, 2022
A non-chronological, mythologized retelling of Nicaragua's bloody dictatorships. Fucking fabulous. Lurid, lyrical, bloody, fierce. Definitely a Bolano precursor, with lots of long monologues about tragic past misdeeds interrupted by really exact descriptions of a checker board or whatever. Anyway, excellent.
Profile Image for Rachel.
108 reviews
January 24, 2011
I was not a big fan of this book when I started reading it--the plot was difficult to follow at first and the characters were tough to keep track of. However, once I got going, I really came to enjoy the book and would highly recommend it to people curious about the Sandinista movement or Latin American revolutions more generally. In addition, it's a great portrait of the precarious nature of existence in the shadow of dictatorship. This book also forces US readers to contemplate the price others pay for our prosperity.

..kind of wish I'd read it in Spanish, though...
Profile Image for Michelle Reyes Navas.
56 reviews1 follower
July 3, 2019
He leído varios libros del autor sin embargo si tiene una narrativa compleja y para mi gusto demasiados personajes. Un tanto compleja de leer y por momentos bastante inerte sin embargo se nota la calidad de escritor que es.
Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews

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