The Jaguar’s Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey by Salman Rushdie

Reviewed by Dedi Felman

Discovering Victoria Ocampo translations of Tagore (Tago-ray in local speak) is only one of the surprises in store when East encounters West in this magically realist voyage through Nicaragua by the Bombay-born Rushdie. Written in the mid 80's, when Sandinista was a household name in the U.S., the book recounts Rushdie's whirlwind tour of the small "beautiful, volcanic country" for three weeks in July. As the U.S. representatives vote another $100 million in support for the counterrevolutionaries and Daniel Ortega closes down the opposition paper, La Prensa, Rushdie traverses the countryside, at the fulcrum of history. Free of polemical cant, yet imbued with deep affinities of revolutionary spirit, this is an unforgettable trip through the Nicaraguan jungled landscape where war rages, campesinos share love eggs, and the escritor hindu meets with el senor presidente to partake of the dinner delicacy of turtle meat. A fascinating glimpse of a country that once held America's rapt attention, but has now almost disappeared from its shortwave sight.