Reviews -- A Thousand Deaths Plus One

"With this compulsive masterpiece, Sergio Ramírez will enchant American readers as he has been delighting us in the Spanish-speaking world for many years. Through the quest for an elusive photographer, Ramírez reveals and celebrates the history of Nicaragua, but indeed of the whole Western world in the last two centuries, and does so in ways that are as entertaining as they are profound." — Ariel Dorfman

"A Thousand Deaths Plus One is an elaborate fiction that stakes itself firmly in the real. A fascinating set of stories and bits of history, it also neatly addresses the issue of capturing history and human fates, in photographs or in writing -- both documentary and fictional." -- Complete Reviews [.com]

"Through a mysterious photographic exhibit in a solitary park kiosk, Sergio Ramirez introduces us in a world of cross-paths where a Nicaraguan photographer leads Napoleon III into the utopian adventure of building an transoceanic canal through Central America. A novel of many worlds and many voices, A Thousand Deaths Plus One, is an intricate and masterful tapestry of words woven to reveal obscure yet defining historical moments and the men and women whose folly and vision shaped them." -- Gioconda Belli

"A Thousand Deaths Plus One is a complex fictional yarn that does not easily telegraph its punches. Employing occasional Borges-like narrative techniques: 'I believe I recall, but this could be a fabrication of my memory...' the author weaves a multi-layered story that after a while makes it next to impossible to separate truth from fiction. As it turns out, Castellon, who came to Poland in 1929 by way of Barcelona, was a friend of the Nicaraguan writer Ruben Dario. This friendship serves as a vehicle to introduce cultural and historical snippets of that Central American nation, or what the author refers to as 'a country that does not exist.' As a form of storytelling, this entanglement works very well. Only pedants will concern themselves with the historical authenticity of the events and characters that Ramirez unveils or concocts, as the case may be.
The story traces both the author and Castellon’s exploits throughout Europe, and how these eventually are linked to their homeland. Without question, Ruben Dario, the poet and originator of the Spanish-American literary movement known as Modernismo, serves as the link between the author and his main character."-- Pedro Blas Gonzales, January Magazine [online]:

"This dazzling novel allows English-speaking readers to discover what others have known for years: that Sergio Ramírez is one of the world's most imaginative and gifted storytellers. Leaping across cultures, continents and centuries, populated by figures from Turgenev to Queen Victoria to a bird named Pericles, A Thousand Deaths Plus One pulls readers into a phantasmagorical world as vivid as any ever created by a Latin American writer."— Stephen Kinzer, author of Blood of Brothers>

"As one might expect of a man whose books have won many major awards, A Thousand Deaths Plus One is an accomplished novel, ably translated by Leland H. Chambers. Intricate and initially somewhat baffling, it weaves together three basic storylines, all anchored in the first person, which skillfully evoke the history of Nicaragua over the past century and a half, even though much of the action is set in Europe. . . .
This is decidedly literary fiction, of greatest appeal to readers who can leap with the author from Chopin to Turgenev to the Central American jungle to Mautthausen. Those who are familiar with Ramirezs next-most-recent novel in translation, Margarita, How Beautiful the Sea, will have an idea of what to expect: serious yet playful, challenging and rewarding writing for anyone who wants to sample the best of today's Spanish-language fiction."-- Peyton Moss, ForeWord Magazine

"Ramirez's storytelling is best when meditating on the heady settings of Castellon's past. For example, when visiting Turgenev's sick room, Ramirez observes how a 'maddened hornet never stops buzzing around, insistent on trying to get into the white fire of the mirror.' The author's insights often yield exquisite metaphors, as when a galleon is layered with 'gilt adornments like a carnival float and gauze sails like the curtains of a bedroom suite.' And Castellon's photos give rise to images no less inspired, as in a photo of the bed 'where Turgenev made love with Pauline, with that deceitful splendor of the winter of their ages lighting the way.'"-- Robert M. Detman, Rain Taxi

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