Biography and History

Sergio Ramírez Mercado was born in Masatepe, Masaya (Nicaragua) on August 5, 1942. He attended Universidad Autónoma Nacional de Nicaragua – León, where he obtained a degree in law in 1964. Ramírez’s activities combined an active participation in the political life of Nicaragua with a prolific output of fiction and nonfiction writings.

Ramírez literary career began in the 1950s, when he published short stories and poems in literary supplements of newspapers. In 1960 Ramírez founded the literary journal Ventana, and, together with Fernando Gordillo, led the literary movement of the same name. His first book, Cuentos, was published in 1963. Between 1973 and 1975 he participated in the Artists-in-Berlin Program of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). He wrote and published without interruption from 1971 to 2008.

His writing output includes novels, short stories, poems, plays, forewords, and several essay books related to Nicaraguan political history and Central American literature. His books and stories received many awards: the Dashiell Hammett Award in 1990 ( Castigo divino), the Premio Internacional de Novela Alfagura in 1998 ( Margarita, está linda la mar), the Laure Bataillon Award in 1998 ( Un baile de máscaras), and the Premio Latinoamericano de Novela José María Arguedas Casa de las Américas in 2000 ( Margarita, está linda la mar). Ramírez was member of the Academia Nicaragüense de la Lengua and of the Real Academia Española.

A big portion of Ramírez’s output consists of articles and essays about literature and politics which were regularly published in several newspapers, electronic publications, and blogs in Latin America, the United States, and Europe.

Major Published Works: De Tropeles y Tropelías (San Salvador: Editorial Universitaria, Universidad de El Salvador, 1972) El Pensamiento vivo de Sandino. Editor. (San José: EDUCA, 1975) Charles Atlas también muere (México: Joaquín Mortiz, 1976) ¿Te dio miedo la sangre? (Caracas: Monte Ávila, 1978) Castigo Divino (Madrid: Mondadori, 1988) Clave de Sol (México: Cal y Arena, 1993) Un baile de máscaras (México: Alfaguara, 1995) Cuentos Completos (México: Alfaguara, 1998) Margarita, está linda la mar (Madrid: Alfaguara, 1998) Adiós muchachos (Madrid: Aguilar, 1999) Mentiras Verdaderas (México: Alfagura, 2001) Catalina y Catalina (México: Alfaguara, 2001) Sombras nada más (México: Alfaguara, 2002) El viejo arte de mentir (México: FCE; ITESM, 2004) Mil y una muertes (México: Alfaguara, 2004) Señor de los tristes (San Juan, P.R: La Editorial Universidad de Puerto Rico, 2006) El reino animal (México: Alfaguara, 2006).

Political and Public Service Career: Sergio Ramírez started his public service career serving two terms as General Secretary of the Confederación de Universidades Centroamericanas (CSUCA) in Costa Rica in 1968 and 1976. In 1977 he was the leader of Grupo de los Doce, a group formed by intellectuals, businessmen, priests, and civic leaders supporting the activities of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) against the Anastasio Somoza regime. In 1979, with the success of the revolution, he became part of the Junta de Gobierno de Reconstrucción Nacional. In 1984 he was elected Vice President, and as part of his activities he was the chair of The Consejo Nacional de Educación. Between 1990 and 1995 Ramírez was leader of the Sandinista party in the National Assembly, and in 1995 he founded the Movimiento de Renovación Sandinista (MRS). As leader of this party he ran for the presidential elections in 1996 where the MRS got 1.33% of the votes. In 1997 he retired from all political activities.

Sergio Ramírez received several awards, including honorary degrees from Universidad Central del Ecuador (1984), Universidad Blaise Pascal de Clermont-Ferrand (2000), and Universidad de Catamarca (2007); Bruno Kreisky Award in Human Rights (Vienna 1983), Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France (1993), Orden Mariano Fiallos Gil del Consejo Nacional de Universidades de Nicaragua (1994), Medalla Presidencial del Centenario de Pablo Neruda (Chile, 2004), and Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (2007).

Ramírez also had a very active career as teacher and conference lecturer. He taught in the Cátedra Julio Cortázar in the Universidad de Guadalajara (1996), in the Cátedra Alfonso Reyes of the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (2002), at the Freie Universität Berlin in the Samuel Fischer Guest Professorship for Literature (2001), at UCLA in the Regents’ Lecturer Program (2003), and as guest teacher at the University of Maryland-College Park (1999-2000). In the United States he was guest lecturer at Princeton University, Cornell University, Rutgers University, Boston University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of California-Irvine, University of Miami, and Middelbury College. He also lectured regularly in Spain (Casa de América, El Ateneo, Universidad de Salamanca, Universidad de Alicante, and Universidad de Albacete), France (Université de Poitiers and Université Blaise Pascal-Clermont-Ferrand) and Mexico (Centro Nacional de las Artes, Colegio Nacional de México, and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).

Ramírez was also an active force in publishing in Central America. He founded the Editorial Universitaria Centroamericana (EDUCA) in 1978 and in 1981 the Editorial Nueva Nicaragua (ENN). He was a founding member of El Semanario, a newspaper that was published in Managua from 1990 to 2000. In 2004 he started the electronic journal Carátula ( dedicated to cultural and literary studies.

In 2004, the Fondo de Cultura Económica published Una vida por la palabra, a biographical interview made by Silvia Cherem, with foreword by Carlos Fuentes.

Source: From the finding aid for C1123

  • Sergio Ramírez Papers. 1916-2005 (inclusive), 1963-2002 (bulk).

    Call Number: C1123

    Sergio Ramírez has been a leading Nicaraguan author and politician. In 1977 Ramírez became head of the "Group of Twelve", a group of prominent intellectuals who supported the struggle of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) against the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza Debayle. With the triumph of the Revolution in 1979, he became part of the Junta of the Government of National Reconstruction and in 1984 he was elected vice-president under Daniel Ortega. The collection consists of manuscripts of his writings, source materials, personal, literary and political correspondence, papers and documents related to Ramírez's political career and to Nicaraguan political history, writings of others, photographs, and graphic and printed materials.

  • Claribel Alegría Papers. 1924-2010 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1363

    Contains notebooks and drafts of the Nicaraguan-born Salvadoran writer Claribel Alegría's poetry, articles and essays, novels, short stories, speeches, and translations. Also includes correspondence with publishers, family, and such writers as Mario Benedetti, Julio Cortázar, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Alfonso Quijada Urías, and Sergio Ramírez. Additionally, the collection contains photographs, audiovisual material, and writings of others on Alegría.