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Suggested Reading for Nicaragua

Nicaraguan literature reflects a country with a long history of occupation, war, revolution and oppressive dictatorships. Most literature has a revolutionary theme and many are personal accounts of the author’s interaction with either the Sandinista or Somoza regimes. (For more on the country's authors see Literature in Nicaragua)

Below is a list of Nicaraguan authors and their most notable work, written during the tumultuous 20th century:

Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1930-)—anti-Somoza leader and newspaper magnate, her autobiography Dreams of the Heart, Simon & Schuster, 1996, shows Chamorro’s transition from housewife to first president of Nicaragua.

Gioconda Belli (1948-)—radical, sexual and an active participant in the Sandanista struggle, both a novelist and poet, Belli is considered one of the 100 most important poets in the 20th century. The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War, Anchor Books, 2003, is Belli´s autobiography about her time as a Sandinista.

Omar Cabezas (1950-)—a revolutionary author whose guerrilla memoir, Fire From the Mountain, Jonathan Cape, 1985, is the best-selling book in Nicaraguan history. The book is famous for being a Nicaraguan vernacular account of fighting against the Somoza dynasty.

Ernesto Cardenal (1925-)—a Nicaraguan Catholic priest who was very politically and literary prominent during the Sandinista regime. His book, El Evangelio de Solentiname (The Gospel of Solentiname), Orbis Books, 1982, became famous for beginning the Liberation Theology movement.

There are many other political and social commentaries written by non-Nicaraguan authors which also provide some insight into revolutionary Nicaragua. Here are some of the more well known authors and their books:

Steven Kinzer (1951-)—New York Times journalist and foreign correspondent, Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua, Harvard University Press, 2007, writes an eye witness account to the triumphs and defeats of the Sandinistas.

Margaret Randall (1936-)—a feminist poet, writer, photographer and social activist who wrote extensively about social movements in Latin America. Risking a Somersault in the Air: Conversations with Nicaraguan Writers, Curbstone Press, 1995, is a series of interviews with Nicaraguan writers who were involved with the Sandinistas. Randall is a prolific writer and one of her largest topics is the struggle of women. Sandino's Daughters: Testimonies of Nicaraguan Women in Struggle, Rutgers University Press, 1995, discusses the role of women in the Sandinista movement.

Salman Rushdie (1947-)—on a break from writing his controversial novel, Satanic Verses, Rushdie wrote The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey, Random House, 2008. Originally published in 1987 after Rushdie took a trip to Nicaragua by invitation of the Sandinista Association of Cultural Workers, this book is his account of the people and politics of Nicaragua in 1986.

Holly Sklar —a syndicated columnist and policy analyst, her book Washington's War on Nicaragua, South End Press, 1999, (originally published in 1988) is a critique of United States foreign policy towards Nicaragua during the Reagan administration.

Matilde Zimmermann (1943-)—both a professor, author and active socialist, Zimmermann’s 2001 book, Sandinista: Carlos Fonseca and the Nicaraguan Revolution, Duke University Press, is a biography of the founder of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN).

By Michelle Lillie
I am currently living on my fourth continent. I think that backpacks are one of the greatest inventions of all times. I adhere to the idea that if...
16 Mar 2009

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