Ya nadie llora por mí. Sergio Ramírez. Madrid: Alfaguara. 2017. 356 pages.
In his most recent novel, Sergio Ramírez (Nicaragua, 1942), Ya nadie llora por mí [No one cries for me anymore], returns to the crime novel genre with Inspector Dolores Morales, protagonist of his previous crime novel, El cielo llora por mí [The sky cries for me] (2009). Sergio Ramírez, who recently won the Cervantes Prize, the most important prize in the Spanish language, now gives us a novel that is surprising in its use of popular, at times vulgar, language that represents Nicaraguan street speech. Sergio Ramírez has been characterized for his novels of great structural complexity such as ¿Te dio miedo la sangre? [Did the blood frighten you?] (1978), by the quality of his prose such as Castigo divino [Divine Punishment] (1988), for the intelligent development of characters such as Margarita, está linda la mar [Margarita, How Beautiful the Sea] (Alfaguara Prize 1998), and for his ability to imitate the language of different social strata and different countries, such as the dialect of the Costa Rican middle class in La fugitiva [The fugitive] (2011). Because of this, it is not surprising that in this novel the use of Nicaraguan popular language, at times rude, since as I postulate in this review, the novel intends to represent the language of the streets of Managua, the popular speech of the poor neighborhoods of the city, and the language of the lumpen proletariat.
In Ya nadie llora por mí, we are faced with a case of domestic abuse, truly a serious problem in Nicaragua, in Latin America, and to a large extent, in the world in general. Marcela is a young girl who suffers sexual abuse by her stepfather, Miguel Soto Colmenares, multimillionaire business owner, very known in the country for enterprises in diverse areas. Soto has hired the Morales company of private investigations to search for his stepdaughter. From the beginning of the novel, the reader suspects that it is about a case of sexual abuse, by this we can say that the novel is not original nor surprising. As readers, we can anticipate what will come next which in some way ruins the novel. Especially for the readers familiar with the history of Nicaragua, this case refers us to the accusation of sexual abuse that the stepdaughter of dictator Daniel Ortega, Zoilamérica Narváez Murillo, aired in mass media and in national and international courts in 1998. Clearly, we are faced with a case in which fiction copies reality. Although the plot of the novel is neither very surprising nor original, I believe the novel is valuable since the novelist set out to recreate the situation of a corrupt society, polarized between religious preachers, bought politicians, and vulgarly rich businessmen. The popular language, rude and vulgar, that the people of Nicaragua typically use in their conversations makes up part of this mural that the novel presents us. Many of the characters of this novel are people from the working class, some are Sandinista leaders, others are garbage workers, helpless and drug addicted, and the author has attempted to reflect this social class with Nicaraguan speech in his novel.
Another very interesting thing we observe in Ya nadie llora por mí is the presence of a conversational partner that is constantly dialoguing with the characters, without him being a living character in the novel. I am referring to Lord Dixon, character of the previous novel, El cielo llora por mí and who dies in this story. In this sequel, Ramírez pays him a sort of homage through the offstage voice that is constantly conversing with us readers, preserving the things that the characters say. This is a very interesting and unique function, since the characters like Morales or his assistant Sofia, do not listen to the commentaries that Lord Dixon makes. We, the readers, are the only ones who listen to his constant presence throughout the novel.
Ya nadie llora por mí plays with different narrative planes and social classes. On one hand, we have Marcela’s family that is one of the richest families in Nicaragua, her father Miguel Soto reminds the narrator “a Gianni Agnelli, el difunto magnate de la Fiat” [of Gianni Agnelli, the deceased Fiat magnate] (24). His first encounter will be in Miguel Soto’s mansion, where the breakfast menu is printed every day for the master to pick what we will order, as if it were a restaurant. This level of luxury and abundance is contrasted by the poorer and more deprived classes of Nicaraguan society, the glue-sniffing children, the hungry, the marginalized that eat each day in a home of mercy. We also have a character like the Rey de los Zopilotes [King of the Vultures], a Sandinista who has control over the garbage business, who has a trained vulture as a pet, and who has made himself a man with certain economic resources and power. Lieutenant Fajardo represents police force, corrupt to the service of the dictatorship, and of course we can not forget comrade Rosario Murillo, wife of dictator Ortega and vice-president of the republic by decree. In the novel she appears under the name of Sai Baba, and Lieutenant Fajardo calls her to request her authorization to carry out certain interrogations.
If in his previous novels, Sergio Ramírez had resorted to email, in Ya nadie llora por mí we find Twitter as one of the protagonists, most of all toward the end of the novel, when in a press conference in the Nicaraguan Center for Human rights, Marcela announces the rape during which she was victimized at the hands of her father. This, then, is a novel very contemporary with regards to the element that compose it, rooted firmly in the historic reality of the current Nicaragua, and novel in terms of the narrative device of the offstage voice of a dead character. The police genre has served Sergio Ramírez to demonstrate the corruption and the low depths and of the upper bourgeoisie of Nicaragua, as in its middle class, and its proletariat underclass. Ya nadie llora por mí is without a doubt a good novel, one that both reads easily and entertains, but I would not classify it among Sergio Ramírez’s best novels.
University of Cincinnati
Translated by Auston Stiefer