Sandinista: A Novel of Nicaragua
Peter Martin is a senior projects editor at the University of Ottawa
Marie Jakober’s novel about the revolution in Nicaragua in the mid-seventies is a great deal betten than one has any reason to expect.
Ms. Jakober is clearly partisan (as is her publishing house, which has several titles in print extolling the Sandinistas), but her revolutionary characters are not wholly flawless, nor are her reactionary ones wholly repulsive. The people in the novel are all symbolic: aristocratic landowner, wealthy businessman, impoverished revolutionary from the barrio, radicalized revolutionary from the middle class, and so on. But all these characters (and others, of course) whose lives and fates are inextricably intertwined in the small society of Nicaragua are vividly, sympathetically realized.
Daniel, the poor boy from the barrio who turned to terrorism after the death of his labor-leader father, is central to the story, along with Pilar, the radicalized rich girl who is Daniel’s lover. They struggle to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship and they are hunted by the brutal counter-terrorist National Guard.
Marie Jakober researched her novel on the spot, and it’s rich with the sights and sounds and smells of Nicaragua. Havana and Wall Street are acknowledged, if unseen, forces in the struggle, but Jakober argues convincingly that the Sandinistas are an indigenous force, in arms against social injustice.