Sergio Ramirez’s Latest Novel Now Out in English

The book triggered his second exile from Nicaragua

Published by McPherson & Company

HAVANA TIMES – English-speaking readers will be happy to learn that Sergio Ramirez 2021 noir novel, number three of the Managua trilogy, is now available in English under the title “Dead men cast no shadows“.

In a book described as “exuberant”, “riotous” and “damning,” Ramirez continues the saga of Inspector Dolores Morales – former revolutionary, former police inspector, current private investigator, banished to Honduras at the end of the last volume of the trilogy.  In this version, he returns, “accompanied by a cast of brave priests, corrupt state security agents, washed up former foot soldiers, and out-for-themselves vestiges of mid-century ideals, all colliding in this exuberant portrait of the depredations of oligarchs and dictators, the human cost of promises deferred, and the implacable hopes and resolve of Nicaraguans” (from publisher McPherson & Company official description).

The novel is set just slightly beyond the borders of reality, in a Nicaragua where actual events frequently seem penned by a novelist. It winds deftly between fantasy and actual events of the 2018 mass protests and the government’s violent response. It can be enjoyed purely for its humor and suspense, or read with a button on Google to distinguish history from fiction.

The saga of the book itself threatened to eclipse the novelist’s art. In September 2021, crates of the novel’s Spanish edition were in the Nicaraguan Custom’s Office, waiting for delivery to bookstores. Then, presumably, one of the Ortega regime functionaries actually read it.

Within days, the books were banned, and a warrant was issued for the novelist’s arrest on charges of money laundering, conspiracy and undermining the nation, among others. Ramirez, who was out of the country at the time, opted not to return. Two years later, Nicaragua’s most renowned writer has been banished to Spain – his property confiscated – including his 8,000-volume personal library – the foundation he founded and directed outlawed, his Nicaraguan citizenship annulled, and even his law degree revoked. 

In what is certainly an understatement, Sergio Ramirez told the New York Times recently, he knew it would be “a book with consequences.” He added: “In Latin America, we’re children of exaggeration, everything is out of proportion — including punishment.”

Dead Men Cast no Shadows is first and foremost a literary work, however, and a delight to anyone who enjoys a rollicking tale full of twists and unexpected insights. Its clever introduction makes it possible to follow without having read the two previous tales of Inspector Dolores Morales, but for those who want to read it as a trilogy, the first novel in the series is: El cielo llora por mí (2009) (“The sky weeps for me” in English), and the second: Ya nadie llora por mí (2017) (“No one weeps for me anymore” in English).  All three English versions were published by McPherson & Company.

Dead Men Cast no Shadows was translated from the Spanish by Daryl L. Hague. The original Spanish title was: Tongolele no sabia bailar.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.