Critical notes on ‘Tongolele could not dance’

September 15, 2021 by archyde

Rafael Rattia

Updated:15/09/2021 18:44h


Perhaps to understand the true scope and exact dimension of the political and literary “affair” that has as its protagonist the renowned and award-winning Hispanic-American writer of Nicaraguan origin Sergio Ramírez Mercado, (Masatepe, Nicaragua, 1942) at the present time it is necessary to hurry and seek his most recent novel, the third in a trilogy starring the fictional character, Inspector Dolores Morales. The first installment of said series entitled: “The sky cries for me” (2008) the second ‘Nobody cries for me’ (2017) and this third installment powerfully titled with the suggestive name of ‘Tongolele did not know how to dance’ (2021) .

This first edition of ‘Tongolele …’ which is preceded by an unusual scandal of a political nature due to the unjust and arbitrary persecution of the Cervantes Prize (2017) for Ibero-American letters by the government chaired by Daniel Ortega Saavedra. The edition, the first in both paper and digital format, is the one corresponding to the recently completed month of August and is backed by the prestigious Alfaguara novel label. There are 346 pages of vibrant and moving pages of a narrative flow that ratifies the Borgesian aphorism, by Jorge Luis Borges, who affirms: “the most real comes from the world of the imagination”.

Ramírez’s novel is built on a complex of murky maneuvers concocted by the imperceptible and no less deleterious secrets, betrayals and dark decisions moved by the omnipresent threads of power that move even the discreet structures of economic, social, cultural and political life of Nicaragua that served as the scene in 2018 for an unusual massacre of more than four hundred cruelly murdered citizens, mostly young students and workers, repressive raids that resulted in hundreds of wounded and dozens of disappeared and thousands of exiles left in safeguarding their physical integrity to destinations in neighboring countries of the Central American Isthmus.

The author of this memorable historical novel of the most urgent contemporaneity knows well about exile and foreignness, since he has lived and suffered long periods of voluntary exile in Costa Rica and Germany to protect himself from the hostile claws of the invisible claws of the “interminable” Ortega interregnum. that with equal repressive fury he attacked that other emblematic icon of Nicaraguan culture that was and continues to be the poem Ernesto Cardenal. Clarification, perhaps not essential. “The character Anatasio Prado, alias Tongolele, head of the secret services and a ubiquitous character who preferred to remain anonymous, a master but silent link of the power machine.”

The structure

The novel is divided into two parts, namely; each one subdivided in turn into nine sub-chapters that serve as small booklets of regular length in which the narrator displays his narrative power that gives him the well-earned status of Master of the Spanish-American narrative of the last decades of the last century. that goes from the present. Sergio Ramírez is, along with a large plethora of novelists still alive, one of the most prominent and notable voices in the post-boom narrative that emerged in Latin America in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In this novelistic jewel, the author shines by displaying his most showy expressive finery of a narrative discourse fringed by accurate expressions characterized by a lyricism of singular metaphorical vigor that adorns the observer who at the same time acts as an actor with sustained and eloquent rigor in the plots and subplots that sprout and proliferate throughout its more than three hundred pages of masterful writing.

“Inspector Morales took out of his back pocket his Samsung Galaxy phone, like a luxury cigarette case, that Fanny had given him.” The reality, the crude and hurtful reality, is metamorphosed by the prodigious mind and the admirable narrative virtuosity of the writer into a work of art.

Gato de Oro and Serafín, two characters who dialogue on the threshold of the border crossing of a neighboring country with Nicaragua reflect two characterological structures of personality “twinned” by some psycho-affective ties forged in the most sordid complicity of lives hurt by existence persecuted by all kinds of vicissitudes and shortcomings of the most unsuspected natures.

– “You are disrespecting me with all those degrading qualifications, Serafin.”

– “Rather, I’m praising it, boss …”

A detail of the cover. ABC

Leonel Medina, owner of a gas station, Serafín Manzanares, alias Rambo, another essential character in the novel’s tiny but decisive demography, La Campana hill, and San Roque, topologies that acquire a verisimilitude character in the romantic narrative configure essential edge elements in the geomorphology of the narrative. A grandmother named Catalina who made Chilcagre that she sold in the San Miguel market in Managua. Chilcagre, it is worth saying, according to the definition of the Nicaraguan Academy of the language is a voice coming from (náh chilli, spicy-agre, sour) m. Creole tobacco cultivated in the city of Masatepe, the place where the author of this novel is a native.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my